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For some, independence comes by way of the driver’s seat. Our Driver Rehabilitation Program is a specialized service to evaluate your skills and road readiness. We help you identify and implement adaptive tools and vehicle modifications that can help you to safely get behind the wheel.

Specialized services are selected based on your physician’s recommendation and your own needs. Safety is the top concern, whether you’re a mature driver in need of an assessment after experiencing vision problems, or a new driver who can’t complete a traditional drivers’ education course because of a disability. We also work closely with those who’ve experienced stroke, traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury to provide assessment and, when appropriate, training.

You also may learn how to drive modified vehicles through our full-service program. We can guide you through the process of obtaining your own modified vehicle and let you test drive a variety of driving systems. We’ll even modify a vehicle specifically for your training. We also can provide detailed information about adaptive equipment, costs and maintenance.

As part of our Driver Rehabilitation Program, you’ll be matched with a group of experts to provide you a high level of attention and maximize your results. A Mary Free Bed occupational therapist may conduct a clinical evaluation to assess things like your vision and motor function. Your occupational therapist also provides insight into your strengths and any potential problem areas that could affect your ability to safely drive.

Your driver rehabilitation specialist will assess your driving skills in a variety of traffic situations during the functional driving evaluation. This professional also will review your medical history, driver’s license status and driving history to gain a comprehensive understanding of the factors that affect your ability to return to the road.

Contact:

616.840.8005 
800.668.6001


An Overview of Our Services

Your rehabilitation specialists will coordinate the Driver Rehabilitation Program services best suited for your needs.

Comprehensive Driving Evaluation
A comprehensive driving evaluation is an assessment of your ability to drive or return to driving. If you need special equipment or vehicle modification, we’ll provide information about what’s available and how much it may cost.

A comprehensive driving evaluation includes:

• Clinical evaluation with an occupational therapist
• Functional driving assessment with a driver rehabilitation specialist
• Wheelchair access compatibility assessment (if applicable)
• Education about adaptive equipment (if applicable)
• Documentation that may include prognosis for success, an estimate of time necessary for training and licensing, summary of vehicle and adaptive equipment needs

Driver Education/Rehabilitation
We provide this training based on your individual needs. We also guide you through the licensing process. If you require vehicle modifications, we’ll provide specific information to help you make a purchase decision.

Driver education/rehabilitation includes:

• Behind-the-wheel experience with a driver rehabilitation specialist
• Road test with licensing authority
• Vehicle modification consultation (if applicable)

Driver Rehabilitation for Experienced Drivers Needing an Assessment
This evaluation may be the right choice if you’ve had a head injury or stroke. These injuries can cause changes in your visual, perceptual and cognitive skills. A professional assessment of your driving skills may be necessary before you return to driving. In some cases, training may be required to help you or your family member compensate for any changes in skill.

Driver Rehabilitation for New Drivers
Our driver rehabilitation program helps new drivers who have a disability or limited mobility that prevents enrollment in a traditional drivers’ education course. Our program provides modified vehicles and the training you’ll need to operate them.

Driver Rehabilitation for Older Drivers
Our driver rehabilitation program may be appropriate for you or a family member experiencing difficulty driving related to such factors as:

• Slowed reaction time
• Vision problems
• Degenerative disease affecting ability to drive

We’ll evaluate current driving skills and create an assessment of what’s needed for you or your family member to continue driving safely. We can provide training, tips or vehicle modifications as necessary. When appropriate, we’ll provide information about driving retirement and alternative forms of transportation.

Driver Rehabilitation for Drivers Needing Vehicle Modification
Driver re-training is helpful if you already have a license, but need vehicle modifications because of an amputation, stroke, spinal cord injury or other condition. We’ll not only teach you how to drive modified vehicles, but also help you throughout the process of obtaining your own modified vehicle. We have various driving systems available for trial use and can modify a vehicle specifically for your training. We also can provide detailed information about adaptive equipment, costs and maintenance.

Vehicle Modification Assistance
A driver rehabilitation specialist will provide you with a consultation, assistance and training, as needed, if you’re purchasing a modified vehicle with adaptive equipment.

Vehicle modification assistance includes:

• Modification process
• Test drive and conformance inspection
• Vehicle familiarization


Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the questions we most frequently hear from patients who are interested in driver rehabilitation. 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