Returning to Driving After a Stroke or Brain Injury

Man driving car

After a stroke or brain injury it can be challenging to know when it’s time to return to driving. Cognitive, visual, or physical impairments can all make returning to driving challenging. Cognitive impairments may make it difficult to react to traffic situations quickly or complete the multitasking required for driving. Physical impairments may make turning the steering wheel, using the pedals, or getting in and out of the car difficult. Visual impairments may make it difficult to scan the environment or see all the fields of vision required for driving.

Work with your occupational therapist (OT), physical therapist (PT), and speech language pathologist (SLP), to identify when you are ready to consider driving. Your PT can assess your range of motion and strength and your SLP can evaluate your cognitive skills needed for driving. OT can complete standardized assessments to help determine when you are ready for driving. Your rehabilitation team can collaborate with you to decide it is safe to further explore returning to driving. When you are ready your team can recommend your doctor make a referral to drivers rehabilitation.

A drivers rehabilitation evaluation will begin with an occupational therapy assessment. This evaluation will explore all of the components required for driving including vision, cognition, physical abilities, as well as your medical history. After the occupational therapy evaluation, a drivers rehabilitation specialist will complete a behind the wheel evaluation.

Here in the Chicago metro area we are fortunate to have a number of drivers rehabilitation programs.