federal affairs Back on the Streets of New York F Following the lead of his father, stepfather, grandfather and great-grandfather, Paul Wrighton is a fourthgeneration United States Army veteran. He is extremely proud of his service to his country during the Vietnam War. Trained as a supply specialist, Wrighton worked various assignments, including transporting munitions. Since retiring from service in 1967, Wrighton continues to serve with his fellow veterans as a life member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) service organization. Wrighton is living with limb loss in both of his lower extremities, having lost the left leg below the knee in 2009, and the right lower limb just last year. “After I lost my second leg, the doctor asked me what my goal was,” he recalls. “I told him I thought it wasn’t possible, but I’d really like to be able to drive.” That’s when Wrighton was referred to the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, to be enrolled in the Drivers Rehabilitation program. 20 inMotion Volume 24, Issue 4 July | August 2014 Paul Wrighton uses hand controls to take his wife, Wanda, shopping. by Leif Nelson, DPT, ATP, CSCS Pascale Pierre, PT, DPT, is the driver rehabilitation specialist at the Bronx VA. Mr. Wrighton recalls their first encounter clearly. “She had me driving on day one; I couldn’t believe it!” Wrighton’s spouse, Wanda, adds, “She also wouldn’t let me push his wheelchair; she wanted him to do everything himself!” The program varies based on each veteran’s personal disability, but veterans with limb loss typically participate in a four- to eightsession program. “It’s a progression, where we start in a parking lot and then move to a residential neighborhood before driving on the highway,” Pierre explains. A push/pull hand control is a common tool used to return veterans with bilateral lower-limb loss, like Mr. Wrighton, back to the road. Veterans with other disabilities may require other adaptive equipment, while some may only need to learn new techniques to overcome their disability without installing permanent vehicle modifications.
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