DRIVE program gets people back in the driver’s seat
For some drivers, a recent injury or the aging process might pose new challenges that make driving more difficult, but with the help of a rehabilitation program at OhioHealth Grady Memorial Hospital, they can learn the skills they need to get back in the driver’s seat.
The goal of Grady Memorial’s Driver Rehabilitation for Instruction and Vehicle Education program (DRIVE) is to enable people to drive safely. It provides drivers with an occupational therapist — who is also a certified driving instructor — to access skills, teach safe driving techniques and recommend car modifications.
Occupational therapists understand the important role driving can play in quality of life and have the skills to evaluate a person’s ability to drive and provide rehabilitation when necessary. They are also trained to access overall lifestyle needs, including psychological and social well-being.
This week is Older Driver Safety Awareness Week and is a good time to consider the benefits of the DRIVE program. In addition to the elderly, the program serves licensed and permitted drivers of any age with a medical condition.
The DRIVE program involves two sessions. The first appointment covers a clinical assessment of visual, perceptual, cognitive and physical skills related to driving. These include functions such as the ability to read road signs, judge distances between cars, make quick decisions in emergency situations and move the neck and head to see blind spots. The assessment takes about two hours.
The second appointment provides an “on-the-road” evaluation that further assesses these skills and teaches safe driving techniques such as route planning, timely braking and mirror/seat adjustments that can compensate for age-related changes. This appointment may take two to three hours and must occur within 30 days of the first appointment.
Program services also include recommendations for appropriate car modifications (hand controls, altered foot pedals, additional mirrors, etc.) and local resources to obtain those modifications. Services also include driver training with car modifications and a final review and inspection of the modified car.
Many people fear that participation in a driver evaluation program will lead to a loss of driving privileges. The program provides a report summarizing the results and recommendations to your doctor that becomes part of your medical record, but the therapist does not report the results to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles without the driver’s permission and does not have the authority to revoke a driver’s license.
The DRIVE program can benefit anyone who has trouble twisting and turning in the car to see behind them, has become lost while driving, has loved ones concerned about their safety or has curtailed activities due to driving issues.
A referral from a physician, a valid driver’s license (or permit) and a condition of medical stability are required to participate. Insurance pre-authorization assistance is available. Call 740–615-2660 to schedule an appointment.
Meredith Sweeney is an occupational therapist and certified driving instructor at OhioHealth Grady Memorial Hospital.