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After an Injury, This Car Fan Designed a New Way to Drive


Irwin Gill, 23, a recent graduate of California State University at Fullerton living in Long Beach, Calif., on his 2005 BMW 530i with hand controls, as told to A.J. Baime.

In November 2017, I had a motorcycle accident and sustained a spinal-cord injury that affected my legs. I was discharged from rehab in January 2018, and a month later, I bought a hand-control system by a company called QuicStick so I could operate a car with an automatic transmission. I had to go to the DMV and take a test to make sure I could operate the car safely.

I am a car enthusiast and one of the things I missed was driving a manual-transmission car (which has three pedals—clutch, brake, throttle), because I no longer had the use of my legs. With time, my left leg started to regain function, but not my right. I would sit in my friends’ cars and work the clutch pedal for 30 minutes with my left leg, to strengthen it. Finally I decided to buy a car.

My requirements were specific: I’m 6-foot-3 and my spine is fused with metal, so I needed a roomy car to be comfortable. I needed the interior to be big enough to hold my wheelchair. I wanted a four-door sedan with a manual transmission and rear-wheel drive, and I didn’t want to spend more than $4,000. I found a 2005 BMW 5 Series in October 2018 that was perfect. I could use my left foot on the clutch, and use the QuicStick hand control to work the gas and brake.

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