Driver Rehab - Mary Free Bed

Below are some of the questions we most frequently hear from patients who are interested in our Driver Rehabilitation Program.

We’re happy to provide additional information about our program and services.


How do I get a driver’s rehab evaluation started?

Eager to get back into the driver’s seat? Start by talking to your doctor about whether you’re ready to begin driver rehabilitation. If you get the go-ahead, you can request a prescription for a driving evaluation. Next, contact our Driver Rehabilitation Program at 616.840.8005 or 800.668.6001.

Please note: Mary Free Bed doesn’t have the ability to grant or remove an individual’s license.

What’s the cost for a driving evaluation and is it covered by insurance?

Please contact the Mary Free Bed Driver Rehabilitation program directly to learn more about fees and associated costs. Our staff can work with you to identify potential sources of financial assistance.

Driving evaluations generally aren’t covered by major medical plans, as medical insurance companies don’t consider driving to be a medical necessity. However, if you’re seeking driver’s rehab because of a traumatic brain injury sustained in a car accident, no fault insurance frequently will pay for an evaluation.

Do I need a driving evaluation if I’ve had a stroke, spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury?

Certain medical conditions or injuries can impact your visual, perceptual and cognitive skills, as well as your mobility. This, in turn, can affect your ability to safely drive. A driving evaluation is recommended to ensure you can safely return to the road.

A driving evaluation is completed in a safe environment that includes a combination of clinical testing and actual on-road driving in a vehicle equipped with an instructor’s brake. The instructor’s brake allows the evaluator to stop the vehicle to avoid a collision or involvement in a situation that could cause a collision, such as not stopping at a stop sign or at a red traffic light. When the evaluation is complete, a recommendation is made to you and your physician on whether or not you can safely return to driving.

Is my license valid after a traumatic brain injury or stroke?

If you haven’t received notification from the State of Michigan and your license hasn’t expired, your license is likely still valid. You’ll be notified in writing (at the address currently on your license) if information is reported to the State of Michigan and action is taken that would affect your license.

Even if your license is valid, you may still consider driver rehabilitation, especially if you don’t have medical clearance to drive. If you successfully complete a driving evaluation, a report is written with recommendations to indicate that you’ve been medically cleared for driving. This report becomes a part of your medical record.

Will my doctor notify the state if I’ve had a traumatic brain injury?

Usually, a physician doesn’t inform the State of Michigan of your medical condition because of federal protections for the release of health information. However, your physician may choose to inform the state about concerns regarding your driving after a traumatic brain injury. This may happen if you’re at high risk for collisions because of how the traumatic brain injury affects your processing of information and judgment. Or, it might happen if you ignore a recommendation from the medical team and indicate that you’ll return to driving despite their concerns.

How does the state find out about my traumatic brain injury?

The Secretary of State office for the State of Michigan depends on you, your family or your physician to report to the state any medical conditions that may affect your ability to drive. At Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, this can be accomplished (via email or in person) by a physician, a family member or by the patient.

How does my medical team address the issue of driving?

Your physician may discuss driving with you and even recommend that you not drive at this time. Generally, this conversation is kept confidential among you, your family and your physician. Sometimes, the conversation is noted in your chart to serve as later documentation that you were informed not to drive. You’re responsible for resolving the medical recommendation not to drive, which you can do by receiving medical clearance from your physician before returning to driving.

What if I can’t use my right leg and/or arm? Or I can’t use my left arm?

Special adaptations are available to make it possible to operate a motor vehicle if you have special needs for driving. A driving evaluation in an adapted vehicle is the best means to identify your specific needs.

Below are devices tailored to drivers with specific physical challenges:

Loss of or limited use of right arm – A steering knob allows one-handed turns of the steering wheel and provides complete control over the vehicle’s steering. It’s designed to be quickly removed from the steering wheel to allow drivers who have the use of both hands to safely operate the vehicle.

Loss of or limited use of right leg – An accelerator can be located on the left side of the brake that allows safe operation of the accelerator and brake while using the left foot. A rigid cover over the original gas pedal is included. The quick-release left foot accelerator pedal can be easily removed to allow another driver to use the vehicle’s original gas pedal.

Loss of or limited use of the left arm – A steering knob is used to allow you to use one hand to turn the steering wheel. Control devices (turn signals, windshield wipers, dimmer switch and automatic speed control) typically found on the left side of the steering wheel can be moved to the right side of the steering wheel.

Whenever an adaptive device is required to continue driving, we recommend the following procedure to ensure safety:
• Behind-the-wheel training using the adaptive device(s)
• Road test completion with the Secretary of State to obtain approval to drive with an adaptive device on the vehicle
• Device installation by a trained installer