MS, a Foot Brace, and a Car Crash

MS, a Foot Brace, and a Car Crash

A tragic car crash involving a man with MS is a reminder that we all should be just a little bit more careful than the average driver when we get behind the wheel.

The accident happened in early October on a street in Eugene, Oregon. As reported by The Register-Guard, a car driven by Jeffrey Muiderman suddenly sped up, went airborne, and crashed into a parked car. Muiderman, 57, who was diagnosed with MS in 1988, was killed.

According to Muiderman’s brother Kevin, who was interviewed by a Register-Guard reporter, the foot brace that the MS patient wore became snagged on the car’s brake pedal while simultaneously pressing the accelerator. Or, in the words of police investigators, “assistive devices” put Muiderman in “an unrecoverable position.” As of late October, a medical examiner had not issued a report on the accident.

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Something similar to this could have happened to me. I wear a Bioness L300 cuff on my left leg (the current model is the L300 Go). Since it’s not the leg that I use for the accelerator or the brake, and I don’t have a clutch, it’s not as much of a concern as it would be if it were on my other leg. But the L300 is a functional electronic simulator. If I leave it turned on and move my leg a certain way, it can give me a little buzz and stimulate my nerve, causing my foot to flex up. If I’ve been wearing the Bioness for several hours, that buzz can “bite” a bit. It’s nothing serious but it could be a distraction, along with the foot flex.

I used to leave the L300 on when I was driving. Now I’m turning it off.

Hopefully, my right leg will remain strong enough to handle the brake and gas pedal without a problem and I can continue to drive. But if the day comes when my leg becomes too weak for me to drive safely, I hope I’ll realize the problem and stop.

I’m not suggesting that Jeffrey Muiderman did anything wrong. And I support those of us who are able to get out and do things like driving our cars and even riding motorcycles. What I am suggesting, however, is that we all, periodically, ask ourselves if there are things that we do, without thinking, that might put us or others in danger. And if so, do we need to make a change?

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13 comments

  1. Cindy Winters says:

    Portable hand controls are available. I always thought hand control installation would be a major job. Not necessarily so. Portable hand controls are designed to be just that—portable. The controls are similar to cruise control and allow you to brake. Just trying to stay in the game.

    • phil langmann says:

      that was going to be my comment as well, realize you have an issue but there are plenty of devices that will one to keep their driving independence

  2. Cyndi says:

    Just a thought – on good days I can drive just fine but on bad days or after a work out or physical therapy I’m a risk to myself and others on the drive home. Owning up to reality I installed hand controls on my car. Easy as pie to learn and adapt and the system has an on/off switch so I can drive with or without the hand controls depending on how I feel. Still further, sometimes I use a hybrid method using the hand controls for gas but original brake pedal for braking. Probably sounds confusing but it works seamlessly and allows me to use what I can when I can. I encourage anyone to explore switching to hand controls if safety has become a concern. Terrific way to maintain independence a bit longer.

  3. Kimberly Roberts says:

    I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do, but I have hand controls on my Van, and also wear a brace on my right leg. With hand controls, my feet don’t go close to the break or gas pedal. Just a suggestion. Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      How do you go about setting up hand controls? How much does it cost? Who do you ask?
      How do you find out if someone is selling a car with hand controls?

  4. Cesar says:

    Hand drive controls should be considered in many cases, unless your hands are also affected. It is sad but stop driving is something we need to foresee hopefully in a distant rather tan near future

  5. Dale says:

    I remember when driving was fun but not so much anymore. Still a necessity and I realize not to drive when someone else can. Hate to give it up but I know it’s coming. Would like to know more about hand controls and how I could get it paid for.

  6. Christie says:

    I’m finally to the point where I’m going to need help for my foot drop. Any pluses or minuses for brace versus Bioness L300Go cuff? Any advise is very appreciated! Kinda scary.

    • Ed Tobias says:

      Hi Christie,

      I’ve used both a foot brace and the original L300. The foot brace is much less expensive than the L300 and it can help correct the foot drop when you wear it. However, it can be uncomfortable and it didn’t work as well for me as the Bioness. You can certainly try it but, if you do, I’d suggest that you get one fitted by a prosthetist, rather than buying one on the internet or from a store. One size doesn’t fit all. Also, made from carbon seems to be the lightest.

      The L300 is fitted and adjusted by a physical therapist trained by Bioness. When I got mine, years ago, it allowed me to walk up and down a grassy hill using a cane…something that would have been impossible without it or with a brace. Unfortunately, I can no longer do that but the Bioness still allows me to walk with two canes…something I couldn’t do without it. But…insurance generally doesn’t cover it and it can cost around $6,000.

      You can find more info on this web site if you search for “L300.” There have been a few columns and articles written about it.

      Ed

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