A whole new feeling

"When I'm ready I just get into my car"

Anita Raguwaran can now drive independently to her work and to further education.

“It’s a whole new feeling – you wouldn’t think so,” Anita Raguwaran describes her new freedom, of just being able to drive off somewhere. She’s been driving for a good month now with her new Peugeot Traveller – individually adapted to her needs with, among other things, the Drive-by-Wire – System” SpaceDrive”, including a two-way joystick for steering, acceleration and braking, a cassette lift and transfer console for the driving seat.

The 29 year old intern for nuclear medicine was born with muscle dystrophy. Despite, or because of this, she wanted to study medicine from childhood. At the beginning of her training Anita could go from Saarbrücken to the Uniclinic in Homburg /Saar by bus and train. However, the journey became more and more problematical. She can still walk a few steps but she has had to rely on a wheelchair since she was 25. It became more difficult to undertake anything spontaneously. Even so she wants to manage by herself for as long as possible.

She got to hear about Paravan from a friend, whom she plays with in the paralympics boule national team. It wasn’t possible to finance the car conversion during her studies but she was already working towards “Operation Car”. “I knew that I wouldn’t have any time after my studies,” she explains and she did her driving test off her own bat while still studying. After three weeks training in the Mobility Park it was: “Hey! I’ve got my driving license, now I need a car.”

Anita started the aspired position as radiology intern at the Uniclinic for Neuclear Medicine in Homburg/Saar at the beginning of 2018 . Now Anita could make a formal application to the Ministry of Employment to apply for a car conversion, which was granted at the beginning of this year. At the beginning of April she was able to sit behind the steering wheel of her own car.

Anita gets into the car using a cassette lift and then sits on the transfer seat. She steers her vehicle using the Drive-by-Wire-System “SpaceDrive” with two two-way joysticks, left for acceleration and brakes and she steers with the right hand. The car is operated by speech controlled, Paravan voice control “Touch”, by which upto 100 passive functions can also be under Anita Raguwaran ‘s control, among other things, the folding down of the sunshade.

“The transfer from the wheelchair was good from the beginning,” the happy car owner reports. Only a few adjustments were necessary, for example the best position for the Touch-System next to the right joystick, or the right place to put your hands on the joystick. “It’s important to have a perfect fit so that the customer can drive long distances without tiring or pain,” Joachim Glück, who is responsible for Paravan ‘s consultancy, knows.

The first test drives with the new car, after two and a half years, were peculiar at the beginning. “I was more courageous at the driving school, “Anita says after her first drive. After three days of driving practice she felt safe again. “That’s part of it all, driving with the customer after such a long break,” says Paravan instructor Daniel Haberbosch, “so they can feel safe again”. Anita Raguwaran could manage the technology again after ten hours of driving. “Then it was good”, Haberbosch reports.

Most of all, the new car means independence to the medical intern. She had to register her train journeys long beforehand or was dependent on other people. “I had to plan in advance,” she says, when she went to further education, for example. “When I’m ready I can just get into my car and drive off.” Afer the car was handed over to her, Anita drove spontaneously to her aunt in Augsburg, 140km away. “I wanted to get a feeling of whether I could manage alone,” she says. “Otherwise I would have taken my uncle with me to Saarbrücken.”

In the meantime, the car has become a pleasant part of her daily routine. One day later she was the chauffeur and collected her brother from the airport. A week after she got the car she already had 1000 kilometers on the mileometer. “I feel safe and happy with my new car. It wouldn’t have been so quick without all your wonderful help. Many, heart-felt thanks”, she writes after the handing over of the vehicle.

Text: Paravan GmbH
Photos : Anke Leuschke/Paravan GmbH