When families or caregivers become concerned about a person’s ability to drive, a driving risk assessment can provide the answers drivers and loved ones need in order to make informed decisions. The role of an occupational therapist in these situations, specifically OTs who have received specialized Driver Rehab Specialist training, is crucial for the safety and security of all involved. In this post, we share information for OTs who want to further their career with this unique training experience.
From time to time, drivers may need to be assessed as the result of an injury, illness, or decline of skills due to aging. Often the need for this type of assessment comes after a person has experienced a driving incident.
With these experiences come a range of emotions for all involved – a driver’s worry about losing their license, the family’s worry about safety for the client and for others on the road, and uncertainty about the changes that may be necessary for the future.
A Driving Risk Assessment is a clinical evaluation by a professional who is trained in assessment of client factors related to driving, understanding driving risk and potential, and in referral to resources and services. An OT Driver Rehab Specialist (OT DRS) can also facilitate conversations and decision-making following the evaluation process.
For those who are presented with the transition out of driving, the specialist provides a professional recommendation that allows the driver and family members or caregivers to make a decision based on the findings of the evaluation rather than on emotion. For those who are safe to drive, the evaluation reassures everyone involved and helps clients improve by providing training and, in some cases, adaptive equipment.
The clinic-based Driving Risk Assessment course facilitated by Adaptive Mobility Services includes 25 hours of self-paced online education. During this specialized program designed for occupational therapists, OTs gain the foundational skills to complete a clinical assessment, sharpen assessment skills, learn to complete a Driving Risk Assessment, and know how and when to refer to an OT DRS.
The Part 1 Building Blocks Bundle helps OTs become part of the solution for their clients and families and allows OTs to connect patients to the right resources at the right time. The courses introduce and develop skills and tools to provide a screen (which is covered by insurance) for driving risk and potential. Participants also learn a variety of tests and measures that can be integrated immediately into their practice to address a patient’s questions and to offer a referral to a driver specialist.
Following this course, the OT will be able to:
- Explain the unique value occupational therapy expertise brings to driving rehabilitation.
- Apply current occupational therapy evidence-based research/practice to driving rehabilitation process (clinical evaluation and on-road assessment).
- Explore and compare/contrast the components of a driving risk assessment, clinical evaluation, and behind-the-wheel evaluation.
- Given a client scenario, select the most appropriate evaluation techniques and treatment interventions to assess a client’s fitness to drive.
- Recognize impairments in performance skills that indicate the need for driving retirement and practice specific strategies for addressing this difficult topic.
- Explain how to select the most appropriate driving rehab technology equipment options and therapeutic interventions to support a client’s return to driving.
- List the foundational elements of a driver rehab program and describe how each component relates to the program’s success.
- Identify the value of developing collaborative relationships with industry vendors and regulatory bodies, and the strategies that can be used to support success.
- Identify characteristics of quality documentation and resources include code of ethics and practice standards to shape documentation and program development.
OTs who are looking for more instruction and support can become an OT Driver Rehab Specialist. After completing the Part 1: Building Blocks courses, OTs move to Part 2: Take the Wheel. This includes 15 hours of online instruction and 20 hours of behind-the-wheel training. The final step in the learning process is participation in Part 3: Mentorship, 12 weeks of mentoring, training, and resources to build your private OT practice.
For more information and to begin your learning path, contact Susie Touchinsky at 484-650-2280.
Susie Touchinsky, OTR/L, SCDCM, CDRS is an occupational therapy certified driver rehabilitation specialist with experience as a driving instructor and owner of Adaptive Mobility Services, LLC serving southeastern PA and surrounding areas including Orwigsburg, Reading, Hershey, Harrisburg, and Allentown.
For decades, Susie has been committed to helping drivers understand and improve their driving ability and confidence after medical illness, a major medical event, health conditions, and injury.