People with Motor Neurone Disease go through huge changes in their daily life, incredibly quickly. All of a sudden they are unable to stand up by themselves, walk to the bathroom, go out to the shops as they previously did. All of a sudden they are unable to do the things we take for granted every day. 

One man I worked with recently had this same story. 

The problem…

All of a sudden he was having black outs and couldn’t walk any more. He was quickly provided with a hire wheelchair to get him by until he could get a scripted power wheelchair more suitable to his needs. When I met him in September he was still transferring into a standard car, but I knew this could change really fast. It is so important to think about the future – for MND, things can keep changing really quickly and we need to plan for the worst case scenario, and any vehicle mods solution that we recommend needs to be safe, consistent and reliable, and sustainable. It also needs to meet the insurers “reasonable and necessary” requirements.

I explained the options to to this fellow and his family, and showed a few options on vehicle modifier websites.

The lowered floor conversion to a Kia Carnival is a really effective, popular, and affordable solution, and many Australians use this option. The other options that are also equally effective include the Hyundai Staria and Volkswagen Multivan.

The trial…

The Kia Carnival looked like the way to go in this case, so I quickly commenced the process of trialling  and applying to NDIS for vehicle modifications to his Kia Carnival to enable him to transport in his power wheelchair. 

The trial was at the client’s home, and allowed him the opportunity to drive up into the car in his electric crashtested wheelchair, see how the restraints work, and go for a test drive. It was all smooth sailing. I gathered all the paperwork needed (there is a lot), and submitted an application to the NDIS to have the modifications funded. The client is responsible for purchasing the actual car.

The approval…

By the end of February 2024, we received approval from NDIS to proceed with vehicle modifications. This is a pretty quick turn-around time in the NDIS world. But, within this time he had lost his ability to transfer into a standard car seat. By the time the approval came through, he’d been stuck at home for 2-3 months, unable to go anywhere over the Christmas period. His hire wheelchair was not suitable for transport, and he couldn’t transfer out of it. Imagine that – being stuck in your own home over Christmas, not being able to take your kids out to celebrate the school holidays, not able to go Christmas shopping, not being able to visit family.

So, the NDIS approval came through at the end of February. Blair and his team at KM Kite on the Gold Coast bent over backwards to schedule the modifications and make it happen as quickly as possible. A job that usually takes 6-8 weeks minimum, they got sorted in less than 4 weeks. They also managed to get him a hire car NDIS had approved funding for so he could transport in the meantime. By the end of March, he had his Kia Carnival with passenger modifications for wheelchair occupant travel. 


The solution!

Have a look at the smile on his face! 

Lowered floor Kia Carnival delivered with a big blue bow!

He was stoked he could finally, again: be a part of taking his kids to school, going to the shops, going out to watch the footy. All the activities we take for granted every day. 

His story really highlights the need for supports to be quickly accessible for people with MND, and the need for increased awareness around the challenges they face. 

Zoe Wagner-Jordan, OT Driver Assessor, Driving Well Occupational Therapy

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If someone you know is needing support with vehicle modifications – 
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