How has the past year changed our need to drive?
In my opinion, one of the best outcomes from 2020 has been the increased acceptance and opportunity for working from home, ordering necessities online, and having more access to food & leisure right at our fingertips (thank you DoorDash).
For my clients with disabilities, this increased access AND increased acceptance of these resources has been a GAME CHANGER. No longer are they so dependent on others or on getting out into the community by car.
My one client, Kim, told me that she had tried for years to work from home. Her multiple sclerosis made it hard for her to get up and out of the house in the morning. She describes it like this – “My brain would be awake, but my body just couldn’t keep up.” In March 2020, suddenly her request to work from home become a requirement. She no longer had to physically get out of the house or drive 30 minutes to work.
Matt shared a similar struggle. After his spinal cord injury doing routine things like getting out the door and into the car would take a ton of time and energy. Now, “I just roll up to my computer workstation and start working. It easily saves me two hours of my day by working from home.”
Working from home has allowed both Kim & Matt to now use their energy banks more efficiently – spend less energy on getting to work and more time on actually working. PLUS now they both report having more energy at the end of the day to more of what they want to do.
So, again I ask… How has the past year changed our need to drive?
I keep hearing this theme and story from my clients. Being able to work from home, order groceries online without paying an arm & leg for delivery, having medications delivered, even getting that favorite craving dropped at your home has been a game-changer, BUT the need to go, to hit the road, remains present. Having these accommodations does not change our innate drive to move and explore.
In the United States, it is estimated that 25.5 million Americans have disabilities that make traveling outside the home difficult AND 3.6 million Americans do not leave their homes because of their disability (Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2018).
I am curious to see how these statistics have changed now that we have all endured 2020. I estimate that the number of Americans with disabilities will grow along with the number who do not leave their homes because of their disabilities. I also anticipate that while resources for ordering and delivery continue to improve, that our primal need to go will remain.
For me, this is one of the reasons I remain so passionate about occupational therapy’s role in driving and community mobility. As occupational therapy practitioners, we are perfectly paired to address all the performance skills needed for the task of driving & engagement in community mobility. AND, now more than ever, we need MORE OTs addressing driving risk and supporting positive community integration solutions.
Interested in exploring your OT role with driving?
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