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My employer has a repititive strain injury that has affected her neck shoulders, arms and hands. I have found it very difficult to find any specifics from individual auto manufacturers to assist her in finding the right vehicle. Any direction in this regard would be much appreciated! Thank you. Carrie DeSalvo

Auto manufacturers all claim their vehicles are “comfortable.” Your employer is going to have to test drive as many vehicles as it takes until she finds one that is suitable for her particular situation.

This is going to be trial and error, and it may take a long time.

Tell her to demand REALLY LONG test drives.

If some sort of support group exists for people suffering from injuries of this type, perhaps they would have some helpful information. At least they might provide a starting point.

Good luck with this one.

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. The suggestions are excellent and much appreciated.

I suggest that she asks around and see if a rental car company has one of the cars she is considering. Rent it for a weekend, drive around town and take it on a road trip.


My advice is to combine both mc and two. Hit the road and try out as many different cars that meet the other needs. then when you have the number down to just a few, consider renting one just to get a long test drive of a few hundred miles. It would be worth in in the long run to get this right.

It may be a good idea to focus on cars that have telescoping steering wheels. This would allow an extra level of customization that could be important in this case.

add to that a multiple position seat

You’ll have a hard time getting such specs because everyone’s ergonomic needs are different. Thanks to an SUV crashing into my Tercel back in highschool, I have a permanent partial injury to my back. For my office, I need high-backed chairs that lean back to take the strain off. Others with different back injuries need chairs that are ramrod straight to support them. Still others need those weird ones where you half sit and half kneel.

In the vehicle landscape things are a little harder. There are certain requirements for the driving task that have to be met before ergonomics are considered. Once you get beyond those basic requirements, you’re left with limited seat adjustment possibilities.

If you can give us some more detail about what, specifically, the effects to her neck/shoulders/arms/hands are, we might be able to give you more suggestions.

For instance, if holding the steering wheel in any position/configuration leads to pain and weakness, it’s possible to equip a car with a joystick control, which would eliminate the need to pick a specific car, and instead pick a specific accessible customizer.

All the advice to go on a bunch of test drives is dead-on.

You may want to have them contact their local AAA, too. They have a program called CarFit done with the American Society on Aging , AARP, and the American Occupational Association that is supposed to help ensure cars are properly adjusted for seniors and even help with suggestions like you’re looking for. While your employer may not be a senior, their injuries line up perfectly with many difficulties seniors face. Some manufacturers are really trying to address these problems… I know Ford has its engineers test cars in suits designed to reduce mobility to ensure that seniors can use them comfortably - they even were supposed to put a wideangle rearview mirror in the Taurus X to eliminate some of the twisting and turning needed, but I don’t know if they followed through.

Just please, don’t let her do like I saw a senior doing yesterday… he was waiting in his Cadillac to pull out of the voting location onto a busy road, and was using a handheld bathroom mirror to see what was coming so he could judge when to pull out. NOT a safe practice (ok, its better than not looking, but there was no way he was getting a good picture of the traffic coming down the road).

My wife suffers from Fibromyalgia. The upright seating position in our 98 Windstar and 2006 Sienna minivans seems to suit her needs.

Ed B.

I too have a disability that mandates the “perfect” seating setup for me. The only answer is long test drives in numerous possible vehicles. In my case, a Scion tC with a special back pad was the answer. Her “answer” will likely be different.

When I had back surgery, my doctor forbade me from driving for two weeks because he knew driving involves twisting the back. It also involves twisting the neck and shoulders. These are realities even with the best ergonomics.

In addition to the good advice you have already been given, I will add that repetitive strain injuries heal better when the patient stops doing the repetitive motion that may have contributed to the injuries in the first place. Convince your employer to let someone else do the driving for a while to see if things get any better. Throwing money at this problem might not be the answer.

Just to confirm this situation is different to a degree for all, I hopped right into my 2004 F-150 a week after spinal fusion. Don’t set your sights on finding totality, aim for chosing something that allows some time behind the wheel. I would not expect for things to be like no condition exists at all.

I am no expert but I think I have heard previous reports about the possibility to install a customized seat into a vehicle. I mean people do it all the time - mostly because they want a sporty Recaro or whatever.

In fact that statement just made me Google the Recaro company (I am not affiliated with them) because I had heard of them before. Turns out they have a line of aftermarket seat geared towards orthopedic needs:

The also have a dealer locator on their website:

My suggestion would be to go to such a dealer and “test sit” some of the offerings.

This is of course only viable if in fact the seat is the most important ergonomic consideration. If the question is about handles etc. my advice does not apply. But for anybody in need of a good seat it may be much easier to install an orthopedic aftermarket one instead of having to settle on a specific car just because the seat is good (even if it has other downsides). Keeps the options open.

I hope that helps.

Thanks a million, Youngtimer. I myself am going to check this out. They even have stre locations of dealers carrying these seats, and the one in Danvers is close enough for me to visit.


Cool :slight_smile: It makes me very happy to have been able to serve as an inspiration. My mother is handicapped and it always tickles my “research bone” when a special needs question is posted here. I have no expertise and no knowledge of the Recaro brand other than that I have heard many good things about them. They can be pricy I believe - after all they are Made or at least Conceived in Germany (I think). So they have a reputation for top notch quality that comes at a price.

I would appreciate if you could write an update here if you had a chance to check it out and what you thought.



My wife had spinal fusion, along with 4 other people I know. wife speaks. “I was originally told that i would be in the hospital for 4-5 days when they called for registration they laughed and said oh no you you will be here for 6 to 8 days minimum and I was after that I was in a back brace for months and surely was not allowed to drive for months because of the risk of not being able to turn and possible re=injury”

You might want to go to a good, not just any medical supply store that has sales people on staff that are experienced with such matters. These stores have items such as wheelchairs, electric scooters, bathtub seats, toilet seat extenders, bedpads, pick up sticks and much more. Their people should have seen a variety of medical situations so it might be worth picking their brains for ideas.

I thought that the telescoping steering wheel was a good suggestion and adjustable angle would be good too and along with those, a seat that is adjustable for height, lumbar support and back angle seems like about all you can do. Power steering is, of course, a must and is typically standard equipment now as are an automatic transmission and power brakes. Another thing you might want to just look at is the number of steering wheel turns, full left to full right, to determine if fewer might be better.

I will. I plan to visit the Danvers site soon and check out the seats. Recaro is one of the premier manufacturers of aftermarket seats including racing seats. They have been for as far back as I can remember. I was unaware that they also made ergonomic seats.