Coming to terms with being diagnosed with ALS can be very difficult. Its progressive loss of muscle function means slowly losing many abilities, including the ability to drive. With this comes a loss of independence, which can impact one’s job, family, and social life. Just because you have been diagnosed with ALS doesn’t mean you need to give up the keys just yet. It may still be possible with adaptive driving devices to extend your time on the road.
Sore, aching, throbbing joints are no fun. For almost 40 million Americans with some form of arthritis, this can be a torturous daily occurrence. Pain in your hands, wrists, knees, hips, neck, back, or feet can make simple tasks like driving seem daunting. As operating a vehicle becomes too uncomfortable to do, you may feel your independence slipping away, and you may worry that you won’t be able to get to work, care for your family, or keep participating in life with others. Fortunately, in most cases, there are ways you can modify your lifestyle and your car to take the pain out of driving and get you back on the road.
If you or a loved one are among the 2.8 million Americans who sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) this year, you may be wondering if driving is still a safe option. If you were injured in a car accident, which is one of the leading causes of TBI, you may be even more uneasy with getting back behind the wheel. At the same time, you may be concerned about losing your independence, or even about losing your ability to care for loved ones. Many drivers not only have themselves to think of but dependents as well. Driving can seem less like a convenience and more like a necessity.
You have finally reached the age where you can get a driver’s license, but you are concerned you may not be able to reach the pedals. Like other people with short stature, you struggle to use vehicles designed for taller drivers. It may be a challenge to see over the steering wheel, reach the controls, or even get in and out of the vehicle. But this need not prevent you from getting into the driver’s seat. Regardless of your height or proportions, there are many ways your vehicle can be modified to accommodate you so you can experience the freedom of the open road.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, you have already begun to experience how this autoimmune disorder can alter your life. It can be painful, frustrating, and even debilitating. Its progressive and unpredictable nature means you are probably not only concerned about your future but also about how you will function on a day to day basis. You may fear being confined to a wheelchair and losing your independence. But for most suffers of MS, despite the difficulty of living with the disease, they never become completely disabled. This means that even if you suffer some physical, visual or cognitive deficits from MS, there is still a strong likelihood that you will be able to get behind the wheel and drive.
If you have suffered paralysis as the result of a spinal cord injury (SCI), you may be struggling with feeling trapped and helpless. Having such a sudden loss of function and independence can be terrifying, and it can take a long time to adjust to the new reality. Some find that they want to push themselves to their new limits, whereas others feel defeated. They may see something like driving as a part of their old life that they must give up. Just because you are paraplegic or quadriplegic, doesn’t necessarily mean you need to surrender driving. Thousands of people with SCIs have been able to relearn how to drive with the help of adaptive equipment and take back some of their freedom.
For the average person, learning to drive can be both an intimidating and a liberating experience. This can be even more true for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While over 70% of high school seniors have a driver’s license, this number drops to around 30% for those diagnosed with a form of autism. In some cases, the individual may feel overwhelmed at the sheer number of tasks and rules involved in driving and choose to postpone learning. For others, it may be their parents and guardians who are concerned about their abilities to safely drive and obey the laws, while the child sits home eager to get out on the road and experience the independence that they see their peers enjoying.
When someone is diagnosed with a form of memory loss, it can be frightening. Every area of life can be impacted, not least of which is their ability to drive. They may suffer from delayed reactions, lack of concentration, or impaired judgment. Whether it is the result of dementia, age, trauma, or medical problems, the inability to think clearly, focus on the road and recall information can pose real safety issues to drivers.
It starts with an increase in the number of close calls you have while driving down the road, or maybe a few minor scrapes and dents pulling into the garage or around the mailbox. You get lost a time or two driving to the grocery store. Then loved ones express concern that it may not be safe to let you keep your car keys, and soon, you too start to doubt if you should be behind the wheel. You know that you are getting older and your vision and reflexes aren’t what they used to be, but you still feel fairly mobile and independent, and the prospect of giving that up scares you or makes you feel like you have failed somehow.
Life after a stroke isn't easy, and may never be the same. There is no easy answer to the question about when a person can drive after having a stroke. Every person is different, every stroke is different and this leads to very different aftercare. Past medical history, age, other medical complexities and the severity of the stroke all play a role in the potential for a person to recover and demonstrate the ability to consider driving. In this article, I'll talk about my experience as a Certified Driving Rehab Specialist working with stroke patients and help you understand the possibilities of driving (or retiring from driving) after a stroke.