Driving After Stroke

man driving a car

Can I drive after a stroke?

If you or a loved one has had a stroke, driving may be a concern. Safety behind the wheel takes on even greater importance, and injury to the brain may change how you do things. Did you know that driving against your doctor’s advice is not only dangerous, it may be illegal? Your doctor may have the legal responsibility to notify your state that you’ve been advised not to drive.

What are some warning signs of unsafe driving?

  • Drives too fast or too slow
  • Needs help or instructions from passengers
  • Doesn’t observe signs or signals
  • Makes slow or poor distance decisions
  • Gets easily frustrated or confused
  • Gets lost even in familiar areas
  • Has accidents or near misses
  • Drifts across lane markings into other lanes

Here are a couple of ways to prepare to drive after a stroke:

Get a driving evaluation. Professionals such as driver rehabilitation specialists can evaluate your driving ability. You’ll get a behind-the-wheel evaluation and be tested for vision perception, functional ability, reaction time, judgment and problem-solving abilities. Call community rehabilitation centers or your local Department of Motor Vehicles for requirements. You can also look for local certified driver rehabilitation specialists in your area by visiting http://www.aded.net/.

Enroll in a drivers’ training program. For a fee, you can get a driving assessment, classroom instruction and suggestions for modifying your vehicle (if necessary). These programs are often available through rehabilitation centers, as mentioned above. You can also contact your State Department of Motor Vehicles. Ask for the Office of Driver Safety to find out the vehicle or training requirements for people who’ve had a stroke.

What about special equipment?

Know your driving equipment options. Innovations in mobility equipment continue, and wheelchair-accessible vehicles have become more powerful than ever. Modified vehicle solutions like hand controls, pedal extensions, seat bases, lifts and ramps have changed the lives of countless stroke survivors and people with disabilities.

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association provides adaptive transportation solutions. With equipment installed by a dealer who participates in NMEDA’s Quality Assurance Program, a wheelchair accessible or modified van, truck or car can help you feel more confident and secure on the road. Visit NMEDA.com.

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