OT Strategies: My client wants to drive. What can I do to help?

Question: What can I do to help prepare my patient for returning to driving?

Do you have a client who wants to return to driving? You are stuck with where to start?

Then read on! This blog includes tips and suggestions to help you expand and improve your driving & community mobility interventions.

Resources for Understanding D&CM Habits & Starting the Driving Conversation

First, let’s start by getting to understand our client’s habits & routines a little bit better.  Use these resources to understanding of your client’s community mobility needs & habits. Understand how your client interacts with the community so you can then help them get back into the community.

  • Adaptive Mobility’s Driver Safety Quiz
    • Use this quick, easy first-step to determine if driving evaluation may be needed
    • Response are confidentially shared directly with a driver rehab specialists
    • Free consultations are available to discuss the quiz
    • May be completed by driver or family
    • Great tool to start conversations & guide your referrals to driver rehab specialists
    • https://adaptivemobility.com/driver-safety-quiz/
  • Hartford’s Getting There Worksheet
    • Use this to list resources for getting around without driving
    • http://hartfordauto.thehartford.com/UI/Downloads/Getting_There.pdf
  • Hartford: Driving Activities – Where, When, & Why 
    • Use this resource to gather information on community habits – where someone goes, when, why, & how
    • http://hartfordauto.thehartford.com/UI/Downloads/driving_activities.pdf
  • Am I a Safe Driver?
    • 25 question self-assessment of driving behaviors
    • May be completed by driver or family
    • Use this to help start conversations & guide your referrals to driver rehab specialists
    • https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/812228-cliniciansguidetoolderdrivers.pdf

Pre-driving Preparatory Tasks:

Next, let’s consider what your client will need to be able to master in preparation for getting out into the community as a driver or passenger.

  • Independence with vehicle transfers
  • Mobility device management
  • Loading/unloading of mobility device
  • navigation of thresholds, elevators, curbs, etc.
  • Seating & positioning in the vehicle
  • Independence with applying the safety belt
  • Independent with toileting, finances, etc. (if your client is driving, they will need to be independent in these tasks)
  • Independent with problem solving, attention, planning
  • Safety awareness & emergency response
  • Good gait speed for navigating parking lots
  • Endurance to manage outings

Transitioning to Community Activities

  • Then, as your clients recover or face discharge, are they independent enough to be in the community as a passenger?
  • Could they use help exploring AND practicing alternative modes of transportation?
  • Once in the community are they independent and able to achieve their plans?
  • For example, do they have the mental, physical, and cognitive skills to complete a grocery shopping trip?

Referral to an OT Driver Rehab Specialist

  • Finally, once your clients have maximized recovery, ask your self, is there potential for driving? If yes, it is time to refer them to a driver rehabilitation specialist!
  • A driver rehabilitation specialist uses specialized equipment to evaluate your client’s driving in a moving vehicle.
  • Adaptive Mobility Services is happy to provide driving rehabilitation to clients in Pennsylvania & New Jersey. In addition, we are happy to consult on any case and even connect you with alternative resources beyond our geography. Reach out at any time to susie@adaptivemobility.com or learn more about our client services at https://adaptivemobility.com/services/.

Remember, while this list is not exhaustive, hopefully it is comprehensive enough to provide guidance and spark appropriate functional activities for your client!

Ready to learn more? Explore our awesome online & live course offerings https://adaptivemobility.com/occupational-therapy-education/




Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Susie Touchinsky

Susie Touchinsky, OTR/L, SCDCM, CDRS is an occupational therapist and certified driver rehabilitation specialist offering decades of experience, knowledge, and professional support for drivers, families, caregivers, and practitioners.