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Drivers Rehabilitation

If your ability to drive has been affected by medical reasons, our Driver Rehabilitation Program can help get you back behind the wheel.

Services are selected based on your doctor’s recommendation.

We provide evaluations and training for adults 18 years old and older who would like to resume driving after an illness or injury, including:
• Experienced drivers with a cognitive or physical injury or illness, including stroke, traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury.
• Older adults affected by medical changes.
• People who require vehicle modification recommendations for personal transportation.

We’ll evaluate your current skills, assess your potential to drive and, when appropriate, identify ways to rebuild your skills safely and with confidence. If adaptive tools or vehicle modifications would make driving safer and easier, we can help with that, too.

Contact Us
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, request a prescription for an evaluation. Next, call us!

Mary Free Bed Driver Rehabilitation
Mary Ives Hunting Center
360 Lafayette Ave. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: 616.840.8161
Fax: 616.840.9952

Mary Free Bed Driver Rehabilitation
Mary Free Bed at Munson Healthcare
3988 W. Royal Drive
Traverse City, MI 49684
Phone: 231.421.1599
Fax: 231.421.1606

Drivers RehabilitationYour rehabilitation specialists will coordinate the best Driver Rehabilitation Program services 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 possible cost.

The evaluation may include:
• A clinical evaluation performed by a Mary Free Bed occupational therapist, who will assess things such as your vision and motor function. He or she also provides insight into your strengths and any potential problem areas that could affect your ability to safely drive.
• A functional driving evaluation looks at your driving skills in a variety of traffic situations. A 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.
• 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 and Rehabilitation
This training is based on your individual needs. We’ll 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 experienced 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 a family member compensate for any changes in skill.

Driver Rehabilitation for Older Drivers
Our driver rehabilitation program may be appropriate for you or a family member having trouble driving related to factors such as:
• Slowed reaction time
• Vision problems
• Degenerative disease affecting ability to drive

We’ll evaluate your 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 Modifications
Driver re-training is helpful if you already have a license but need vehicle modifications because of an amputation, stroke, spinal cord injury or another condition. We’ll not only teach you how to drive modified vehicles, but also help 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

Here are some of the questions we most frequently hear from patients interested in driver rehabilitation:

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

Start by talking to your doctor about whether you’re ready to begin driver rehabilitation. If he or she believes you are, request a prescription for a driving evaluation. Next, contact our Driver Rehabilitation Program by calling 616.840.8161 for our Grand Rapids office or 231.421.1599 for our Traverse City location.

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. We’ll work with you to identify potential sources of financial assistance.

A pre-driving evaluation frequently is covered by insurance and completed by a Mary Free Bed occupational therapist with specialized training and equipment.

On-road driving evaluations typically must be done at private businesses that are mostly private-pay services. Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists use vehicles licensed by the state to be used for on-road evaluation and training.

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 comprehensive driving evaluation is completed in a safe environment and usually requires two parts:
• A clinical evaluation completed by an occupational therapist in a hospital outpatient facility.
• An on-road driving evaluation implemented by a private business certified by the state.

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 you can safely return to driving.

Is my license valid after a traumatic brain injury, stroke or disability caused by injury?

If you haven’t received notification from the State of Michigan and your license hasn’t expired, your license likely is 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 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 or disability caused by an injury or disease?

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 elevated 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 or disability caused by an injury or disease?

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 your physician, the occupational therapist who assesses your driving abilities, a family member or by you. The private business that performs your on-road evaluation and training also can report your inability to pass the on-road test to the state.

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. 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.

These are among the 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.