Are You Safe To Drive Following a Stroke?

NeuroRehab Team
Monday, March 7th, 2016



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Driving is often a major concern following a neurological injury.  Movements, sensations, alertness, judgement, coordination, and vision can be adversely affected which may impair the ability to drive a car. Due to these impairments, there is cause for concern regarding increased risk of crashes post stroke and other neurological injuries (Perrier et al., 2010).

Predicting who will return to driving after stroke is often difficult. According to Aufman et al. (2013), thirty-one percent of the patients who had been driving before their stroke returned to driving 6 mos after stroke. If you or a loved one is experiencing difficulties with some of the impairments listed above, it is important to get evaluated by a doctor or rehabilitation professional.

Get Evaluated

An occupational therapist can provide a comprehensive in-clinic evaluation of a client’s current skills and deficits. From there a client could be sent for an in-vehicle assessment for further evaluation by a certified driver rehabilitation specialist (CDRS). They can assess driving skills in a controlled and safe environment. An in-vehicle driving test is the most thorough way to gauge a driver’s abilities. Each assessment takes about 1 hour and involves driving with a trained evaluator or driving in a computer simulator.

The “behind-the-wheel” evaluation will include testing for changes in key performance areas such as attention, memory, vision, reaction time, and coordination. After this assessment the CDRS can determine if the client is safe to drive, can not drive at all, or may drive with additional recommendations. Often times clients may require certain modifications to their car in order to drive safely. In addition, some clients may benefit from on-going classroom training and simulation training in order to meet safety standards. These are all services that a driver rehabilitation specialist can provide.

 

Find A Driving Specialist

 

Driving following a neurological injury such as stroke should not to be taken lightly. The patient is not only putting their safety at risk but the safety of those around them. Careful consideration should be made by the health professional, patient and family members regarding when to seek a proper evaluation, and potentially associated treatment, prior to resuming operation of a motor vehicle.



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