Driving After a Brain Injury

DRIVING AFTER A BRAIN INJURY

A brain injury is a life altering medical condition that can affect physical abilities, visual skills, and cognitive processing.  Some brain injuries occur with no warning such as for an individual involved in a motor vehicle accident.  Other times a brain injury may occur due to loss of oxygen with surgery or a near drowning experience, a brain tumor, or from the effects of a chemical overdose.  The area of the brain that is impacted affects what type of challenges the person faces.

Common deficits from a brain injury that impact safe driving include:DSC00119

Challenges in making multiple decisions simultaneously (multi-tasking).

Difficulty in judging traffic scenarios correctly and making correct responses to other roadway users

Slow processing that leads to delayed behind the wheel execution

Impaired memory for route navigation or for sequencing destinations

Visual challenges including double vision, visual suppression or impaired perception of space

Impaired physical abilities such as tremors, tone, weakness or paralysis

As driving affects an individual’s safety and the safety of other roadway users, it is particularly important to receive expert guidance regarding driving safety after a brain injury.  Those who have suffered a brain injury can receive expert guidance by participating in a Comprehensive Driver Evaluation.

 Individualized Intervention

After sustaining a brain injury, an individual may require individualized intervention to achieve or return to driving independence.  We have success in aiding individuals with a brain injury in their pursuit of independent driving.

Obtaining Services

Driver Rehab Services provides a comprehensive driver evaluation for individuals with a brain injury.  The evaluation includes both clinical and behind the wheel testing.  Evaluations are conducted by a licensed Occupational Therapist who is also a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist.  Our therapist has 20 years of experience in the field of Driver Rehabilitation.

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Outcomes

Safety behind the wheel is the most important goal and is achieved through specialized intervention strategies and training outlined at the evaluation.  Often a person who has suffered a brain injury requires pre-driving intervention to foster improved cognitive or visual skills.  Driver training is typically beneficial to safely resume or begin driving independently.  If the individual is in need of a license or requires restrictions on their license, training will include aiding in obtaining their license by passing of the DMV road test as part of their driver training.  Safe driving and independent decision making is emphasized.  Specific skills required to pass the road test are coached during the training process.  A personalized “return to driving” plan is outlined and provided to the individual.

Resources Regarding Driving After a Brain Injury

Brain Injury Association of America

BrainLine

Brain Injury Education

Brain Injury Association of North Carolina