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Driving with foot drop

Hi, I was wondering if anyone has experience of driving with foot drop.

My issue is my right foot doesn’t move smoothly from accelerator to brake pedals, especially as the brake is slightly higher than the accelerator so you have to lift up your toes to get to it.

I don’t feel safe behind the wheel. :frowning:

Any tips?

Oh Angela, my only tip is don’t drive. I’ve had foot drop (left sided) for about 3 years, I just wouldn’t risk it if it cause’s such a problem. I do have a foot brace though, have you seen the physio?

Can you drive an automatic? If not you need to stop driving as you are a danger to yourself and other road users.

You can get a left foot accelerator fitted, which might solve the problem.

http://www.motability.co.uk/cars-scooters-and-powerchairs/adaptations-overview/adaptations-videos/

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Been there Angela. One day driving alone. I got so bad my right foot went numb with the strain of lifting it from accelerator to brake and back, I was having to reach down with my left hand and grab a handful of my jeans, to lift my leg across to the brake pedal!!! Terrifying. I pulled over and sobbed while someone came and got me. Get a driving assessment done. There are alterations that can be done that don’t cost the earth.

It’s a very serious situation Angela. I hope you’ll address it. Imagine yourself in court should something happen. You won’t be covered by your insurance who will go through everything with a fine tooth comb. It will be pointed out that you are not in complete control of the vehicle and therefore should not have been driving.

Thanks for your answers.

Don’t worry I’m not driving! But miserable due to the lack of independence :frowning:

I will look at modifications, Whammel (thank you) - automatic is no good as you still need you right foot to work but other options might be doable. Still hoping it might resolve itself as this relapse has only been going on a few weeks.

I will also call the MS nurse about some physio but fear the answer will be to ask her again if it doesn’t improve soon. Everyone just wants me to be patient but so miserables and fed up I just want a quick fix…

I drive with hand controls so I don’t use my feet at all! Motability fit them at no charge providing it is done at the beginning of the lease. If you go to one of the assessment centres they will let you try hand controls and advise if they will be suitable for you.

Sarah

I can’t get a cat through motabiity, I think, because I don’t get PIP. Can you get adaptations elsewhere?

I had exactly the same experience as Poppy6488. I stopped driving after that. I did have a couple of lessons in an adapted car where you do all the braking with your hands. In the end, I decided it wasn’t worth learning to do that properly and getting an adapted car because I already have some problems with my left hand and you need to use both hands very effectively.

Once footdrop starts affecting your driving, you need to get your car adapted or stop driving. Doing anything else is dangerous for you and for other people driving or trying to cross the road.

Agreed!

I think a left foot accelerator would get me back on the road so am going to try that. My right hand is a bit weak so would feel better with that than a hand control I think. Need to get some advice though!

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Here in Ireland things work differently. You don’t get given a motability car, (well you might if you’re limbless and just a torso!), you are allowed a fuel tax allowance and road tax free. We couldn’t afford a brand new car, which we could have adaptation done free. So we bought a used fiat doblo privately, that has a drop down ramp at the rear.

It was suitable at the time and great for easy access getting the manual chair in and out. Within three months I stopped driving. If I was automatic it would cost about €800 to have peddle work done so I could drive. It isn’t, so I can’t. As we’ve not had it very long hubby a bit reluctant to sell it. Plus here, automatic wheelchair suitable cars are hard to come by. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. :frowning:

Hi

I drove an automatic for quite a few years before foot drop became a problem. Once I noticed it was starting to slow my reaction time down, I decided to have a driving assessment. So I found as assessment centre that was near enough (in my case the Queen Elizabeth Foundation in Surrey http://qef.org.uk/our-services/qef-mobility-services ) and arranged an assessment.

They check out everything to see whether you are safe to drive, and / or what adaptations you might need to make you safe. In my case, they actually ascertained that my reaction times were in fact just about legal. But I don’t evidence to get my car adapted anyway as I thought that my mobility was only likely to get worse. They also have a test track for you to have a go at driving with adaptations. They give you a comprehensive report following the assessment and also a whole load of info as to where to get further assistance.

I self funded the assessment and the adaptations, I also had a few lessons with an instructor in an adapted car (the QEF gave me a list of instructors as well as details of where to get the adaptations done). It seemed that I’d never be able to manage to drive with my hands alone, but after two lessons I was fine, I had a third in my own car which had been adapted, hug didn’t really need it. I think the assessment cost (10 years ago) about £140, the adaptations, about £700 and the lessons £30 each. At that time I hadn’t applied for DLA so wasn’t eligible for a Motability car.

I drove my car quite happily for about 5 years. I only stopped driving when I was no longer able to walk and couldn’t get myself to the car, in the car (with wheelchair), out again and do anything useful. I could probably still drive a WAV, but happily my lovely OH took early retirement 4 years ago and my need to drive just isn’t there any more.

I thoroughly recommend a driving assessment, and the change to driving an adapted car. The longer you can keep your Independence the better in my view.

Sue

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I knew when I wasn’t even safe to drive an automatic, ‘Motability’ will help with the cost of fitting hand controls and driving lessons! It’s weird to begin with but well worth the effort, good luck. M

Sorry about the poxy auto correct. A whole bunch of incorrect words and phrases are in this post.

Sue

Thank you - all very helpful.

I don’t know whether to give my relapse a little while to recover before I go down this road or whether to get on with it… It’s been about 5 weeks since I last drove and I’ve improved a lot since then but am hopeful for some further recovery.

I bloody hate all this, not knowing where you are or what to do :frowning:

I too have foot drop in my right foot since March and also have spasms in my left leg daily. My right side is also numb. I decided straight away to let my hubby do the driving from now on. It is hard giving up your independence though :frowning:

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Foot drop is a bit of an oddity. It might not remit. I’ve read in the past that it often doesn’t remit whilst other symptoms do. So maybe you should try to get some help with it, quite apart from driving. Have a look at https://www.mstrust.org.uk/a-z/foot-drop

I’ve had it for about 7 years, but then I’m a long way past where you are with regard to MS.

If you find it doesn’t improve, see what you can do to help it out. If you don’t treat foot drop, it can have a bit impact on other parts of your musculature. For example, my right foot has the foot drop (it would be the foot that’s needed for driving wouldn’t it!). Because I didn’t have decent help with the foot drop for years, just kept on trying to walk, I caused my right hip a series of injuries so it hurts a lot of the time. People often do things like ‘hitch’ the hip up on the affected side which causes muscle damage, or swing the foot round, a different kind of damage.

Physiotherapy can help a bit, but to be honest, it never really helped me. If your foot drop is going to stick around, you can get orthotic help (things like foot braces to keep that foot in a stable position) or FES (functional electrical stimulation) which is the best long term solution.

So, give your foot time to resolve, try some physio exercises, but if everything else in your relapse gets better, but not the foot drop, then think about how to put it right for walking in the long term. That’s also going to be the time that you need to think about your driving.

Sue

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I will try to be forceful with the MS nurse then when she rings me back, the sooner I get the ball rolling the better it seems!

Have already phoned the boss (was due to give her an update anyway) and asked for an occ health assessment, the work issue is to do with driving as I can’t get there any other way… Luckily she is s ympathetic!

Thank you so much for this.

I already feel a bit less miserable - light at the end of the tunnel and all that…

Angela,

My first thought is “stay safe”

There are avast amount of adaptations available. If you can get the mobility component of DLA / PIP then Motability will help, but you say that this is not happening so I suggest that you find which companies are used by Motability (therefore credible) and ask them directly about options and prices.

All the best

Mick

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I am lucky (lucky?) in that my drop foot is on the left leg
I am lucky in that I have driven automatic cars for over 15 years through choice.

Suggestions:
1 - Plan for the drop foot NOT to recover.
2 - Think about a hand throttle and left foot braking. Note that most Formula 1 cars are left-foot braking. You can learn to use the other foot fairly easily
3 - The ideal car (IMHO) is a diesel automatic (but get a true auto, not an automated manual)
4 - if you must use your right foot to brake, get the brake pedal lowered so that it is the same height as the throttle - now foot transfer is a matter of rotating the foot, not of lifting it (but note that drop foot progression may mean that foot/ankle rotation stops being possible.
5 - As 2 above but go for left foot throttle and braking both.
6 - Go for all hand controls. Quite a few people use these. You can get a flavour of this by using cruise control (but only in the country please, and it still means that you need a foot for emergency braking).

Drop foot does not mean that you give up driving.
Note also that the DVLA consider an automatic transmission to be a “modification” (tell that to about 150,000,000 drivers in the USA).

Geoff

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