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Medical diagnosis prompts Omaha veteran to learn new way to drive

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 7:12 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Having access to a vehicle leads to independence. But for Paul Eubanks, whose legs simply don’t work as well as he would like, getting back behind the wheel was process.

He was in Army — 101st Airborne. After his stint in the Army, two surgeries on his knees, and a glance at the calendar — he’s 79 years old — he couldn’t feel his feet on the pedals.

So he decided to take the keys away from himself.

The medical diagnosis: neuropathy.

“I’ve got to do something, or I’m going to be in big trouble,” he said.

His independence gone, and a wife who could no longer shuttle him around, the Omaha man said he needed options.

“When you lose it, you go: ‘What happened?’” Eubanks said.

He went back to driver’s education.

“You learn,” he said. “Either that, or you run into a tree — ha!”

His gas and brake are now reachable by his left hand.

“I’ll tell you what: It changed my life,” he said.

Kelina Moore, a driver rehabilitation therapist with Methodist Hospital, spent five hours riding with him in “Ruby,” the car Eubanks trained in, teaching him how to learn something new.

The car has a brake she can control. She said she’s had to use it “multiple times — but not all with Paul.”

Eubanks said he’s getting better with the new skills every time he hits the road. Even the younger family members have noticed his freedom.

“Oh, look! Granpa’s driving again. Ha! It’s a whole new ballgame,” he said.

Eubanks has been driving with his new controls for just a month now. His drive across town was his first trip behind the wheel in more than a year.

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