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Veteran and Amputee Finds Freedom Behind the Wheel

Dec 4, 2023 |

Often the loss of a body part is not the only loss someone faces when they go through an amputation. This may also prevent many amputees from being able to operate a vehicle like they once had. Fortunately for some like Rodney Bradley, driver rehabilitation makes it possible to regain independence and return to driving even as a bilateral amputee. Kimberly Perez reported on Rodney’s success story for Spectrum News 1.  

Rodney was drafted to the Vietnam war when he was 19 years old, but his first diabetic amputation didn’t occur until four years ago. As a bilateral amputee he still wanted to maintain his independence. “I knew I wanted to get back out on the street in a car,” he said. With his goal in mind, Rodney went to see Tony Zakrzewski, a Kinesiotherapist at the VA Medical Center in Cleveland where he had his amputation surgery.  

Zakrzewski specializes in driver rehabilitation and played a crucial role in making it possible for Rodney to begin driving again. “I do have the benefit of being able to put a lot of amputees back on the road,” Zakrzewski said. “Depending on what sort of strengths and weaknesses you have, we have different devices.” 

Rodney learned to drive again in empty parking lots and this time with only hand controls. Now that he’s passed the test, he enjoys not having to rely on his wife to drive him whenever he needs to go somewhere. Rodney’s car has been modified with a button that disables the foot pedals and transfers all control to the hand controls. 

Learn more about how you can get back on the road with our vehicle modification resources factsheet.