The RCOT Specialist Section Neurological Practice (SSNP) Stroke Forum welcomes you to the #OTalk on driving after stroke and invites you to participate in a tweet chat on driving following stroke. The chat will include the meaning of driving to us, the assessment of driving ability, methods of rehabilitation, and adjusting to life without returning to drive.
Driving is an occupation that, to many of us, represents a means of independence. This can include the independence to travel to work, to visit our family and friends, to support our everyday lives such as travelling to the supermarket, and to undertake our leisure activities. Much of our domestic and social lives are supported by us being able to drive and losing this ability would be highly likely to significantly impact on our lives.
In the UK, following a stroke, people are not permitted to drive for at least one month. After this time, people must not drive if there are enduring physical and cognitive limitations. Doctors may give the go-ahead for returning to driving if they consider that the person’s abilities are adequate. When there is uncertainty around a person’s abilities, a referral may be made to a driving assessment service where the person will be tested with a combination of physical and cognitive assessments and an on-road test.
As stroke is a condition where varying degrees of recovery is possible, rehabilitation may be a means to improve a person’s ability to increase the chance of returning to drive. Rehabilitation to improve independence in most occupations usually includes the practice of that occupation, but this is not possible with driving as people cannot legally drive before being assessed as competent. Thus, occupational therapy must depend on indirect methods of assessment and rehabilitation towards an outcome that is not guaranteed of returning to drive.
Please consider the following questions:
- What does the occupation of driving mean to you?
- How do you determine whether somebody can resume driving following the first month after stroke or whether testing at an official assessment service is required?
- How do you rehabilitate a person’s driving?
- How can occupational therapy help those who do not return to driving?
We hope the conversation resulting from the above questions will help us to understand different perspectives on driving after stroke and to discover methods which occupational therapists use to assess driving ability, to provide rehabilitation and to work towards developing alternatives to driving.