First car brings freedom for Kay
Kay, a 25 year old mum of one from Newcastle, is no different from any other confident young woman her age, keen to pass her driving test to make her busy lifestyle a little easier for her and son Lewis, aged 5. But Kay suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), more commonly known as Brittle Bone disease, a rare hereditary genetic condition present from birth.
OI is a genetic
disorder of collagen, a protein which forms the framework for the bone
structure. In OI, collagen may be of poor quality or there may not be
enough to support the mineral structure of the bones. This makes the
bones weak and fragile and results in the bones being liable to fracture
at anytime and repeatedly. Even when there are no fractures, OI brings
with it other symptoms that require a variety of lifelong interventions
and medical care for sufferers like Kay.
Kay has always wanted to learn to drive but never thought it possible. Her 3ft 9in height was the result of an operation to have rods inserted into her femur at the age of 5 which stunted her growth, and also her type 4 OI condition. Kay expected there to be problems taking lessons with a conventional driving school and so contacted a Mobility assessment centre who took details of all her mobility needs. After this point they were able to provide advice on the grants available to fund her dream of learning to drive in her very own car, and advised Kay to make contact with Derbyshire based firm Autochair, not only pioneers of product innovation with over 25 years experience, but a family run business, ready to listen to Kay’s individual needs and let her try and test all the options available to her.
As a result of this partnership, Kay is happily the proud owner of a brand new, white Golf TSi. Having always loved VW Golfs, Kay was keen to choose a car that suited the kind of person she is, young, vibrant and outgoing and for it not to look ‘disabled’, but for its discreet adaptations to stand out for all the right reasons. Liaising each step of the way with Autochair’s team of experts, Kay’s Golf TSi was fitted with the following: dual controls (enabling her to use it to learn to drive), 4 way adjustable Recaro seat which has been modified to enable Kay to get close to the steering wheel as well as bend her legs in a comfortable position, Push Pull hand controls as Kay could not reach the pedals, Smartsteer to control the secondary functions of the vehicle and a removable false floor which looks very much like a normal floor but enables her feet to sit comfortably on the floor.
Smartsteer is, part of Autochair’s Smart range of driving aids, designed to assist those who find driving with two hands difficult or who can only use one hand. As a handheld steering device it puts the vehicles secondary controls at the driver’s finger tips and is easy and safe to use, controlling either 10 or 13 functions including; indicators, hazard lights, headlights, horn, windscreen wipers and fog lights.
Kay already has 6 driving lessons under her belt so far, her instructor has said she is driving very well and can expect another 9 lessons before facing her theory test. With her test date getting closer, Kay is not only thinking of her son Lewis, who does not share her condition, but also of her sister and Mum who also live with this disabling condition. Because of the impact OI has on her family, Kay is a keen fundraiser and project volunteer for the Brittle Bones Society where she is proud to raise awareness of the charity’s work, championing the positive stories of its members and sharing her own inspirational journey.
Speaking of the impact driving her new car has had on life at home, Kay says: "I love just being out of the house, especially out and about with Lewis, I cannot wait to pass my test and to take him out for trips together, even if it is just to do supermarket shopping. It’s nice that people will be inspired by my story but on a practical level it means so much to me just to go wherever I want, whenever I want and at my own pace without having to rely on other people all the time. Although I imagine I’ll be acting as a taxi service for all my family and friends for a while as a thank you for their support … I still have to pass my test first though.” Felicity Atkin, Marketing Manager at Autochair is enthusiastic about Kay’s story:"At Autochair we recognise that everyone’s needs are different and our Smart range of vehicle adaptation products respond to the fact that although our customers may come in different shapes and sizes, age and abilities, they all share a common goal to lead more independent and fulfilling lives.
It was a pleasure to meet Kay and be dazzled by her sunny personality and compassion for others, she is truly an inspirational lady and I’m thrilled we at Autochair we’re able to help her build up her hopes for the future as well as build up her dream car.”
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