Driver Rehabilitation Program – Memorial’s Orthopedic and Neurosciences Center, Belleville, IL

Driver Rehabilitation Program What is the Driver Rehabilitation Program? Heidi Hoskins
Rehab Supervisor/Occupational Therapist Our driving rehabilitation program lasts about
two and a half hours. It has two parts to it. It has a clinical portion that takes about
an hour and a half where we assess the physical/visual cognitive
abilities of a patient, and then they do complete an on-road assessment. This is with a certified driving rehab specialist
who is additionally an OT, and he takes them in a car that has a second break like a driver’s
ed car. This car is adaptable so if someone does need
training with adaptive equipment such as hand controls or a left foot accelerator things
of that nature then he can do the training in this car. The entire process is about two and a half
hours. It is much more involved than being assessed
at the DMV, and it gives a lot more clinical information that you would receive at the
DMV. Judy Hagelstein took part in the program after
suffering a stroke in 2015. They worked with my hand and my arm to the
point where they suggested I take a driver’s test which of course I was insecure, but I
did it anyway. I have been driving for over a year, and I
want to tell you the independence is just awesome. The instructor, he has a van in which he has
brakes on his side of the van so I, you know, I wasn’t going to worry about doing it. And they I think I drove, the first time I
drove, I was like for 45 minutes. It was a lot…it felt very long because I
hadn’t been it behind a wheel in over two years, but the more you drive the more confident
I get. I can’t tell you the experience…I don’t
have to depend on people to get me anywhere, and it’s wonderful, the independence. Heidi discusses why patients go to Driver
Rehab. If we’re looking at a patient such as Judy
who had had a stroke, and many times the physician is saying, “I don’t want you to drive now. We’re gonna let you work through your recovery,
and we’ll look at driving as an option in the future.” It’s unclear sometimes when is that time to
regain driving ,and so if they are attending therapy, we do focus on that in our occupational
therapy clinic and kind of use it as a guide of when we think it might be a good time to
actually take an assessment or participate in the assessment. But many times we receive referrals from patients
who have attended therapy in other clinics that just really want to know, “Am I safe
to be driving again?” So, it gives the physician, the patient, the
patient’s families and caretakers, a really good understanding of how they’re doing on
the road…if they’re safe to return to driving or if maybe they need a little bit more therapy
before they return to driving. So the other diagnosis that are appropriate
for drivers rehab it could be anyone who’s had a medical setback and isn’t driving. So it could be anyone that has maybe a hip
replacement and their hip, their right leg’s just really weak now, and do I have enough
strength to to hit the breaking gas appropriately? It could be someone who has numbness and their
feet from neuropathy and now it’s getting a little unsafe when I’m pressing on the brake
or the gas, or my foot’s slipping off the gas or a brake pedal. It can be someone that’s had progressive lower
extremity weakness from or just any diagnosis failed back surgery, and now they would like
to continue to drive with hand controls. So we assess multiple diagnosis for that ability
to continue to drive or regain the ability to drive. Heidi discusses another service offered through
Driver Rehab. This is assessment of individuals who should
maybe retire from driving. That’s how we’d like to say it. Those individuals that we have concerns about
with memory deficits or dementia, and it’s often a really hard decision for that family
member or the physician even to decide when is it appropriate to stop driving. So those individuals do come in, they participate
in the same program we do clinical assessment, and then they do an on-road driving assessment,
and we meet back with the patient and the family and really discuss what the options
are or what our recommendations are. Our recommendations are not final. The physician is always going to be the final
determination of whether someone drives; whether they get to drive or whether they retire from
driving. Judy explains how the occupational therapy
team encouraged her. They give you hope. They tell you, you know, you can do this. I didn’t think I could drive. When they suggested that, I thought they were
a little silly, but I thought, well if I don’t try I won’t know. And I’m so glad I did. So you just have to try and just not give

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