Role of driver rehabilitation specialist
Driver rehabilitation specialists, many of whom are also occupational therapists, have specialized training to identify a driver’s strengths as well as the physical, visual and cognitive challenges presented by the task of operating a motor vehicle. They can evaluate an individual’s ability to safely operate a vehicle and make recommendations about ways to limit risks. The Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging's Web site at http://www.i4a.org/search.php can link individuals to evaluation resources in their communities. Click here to visit the Web site or go to http://www.i4a.org. Additional information on driver rehabilitation specialists can also be accessed at the following links.
- Click here for the the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc., or visit http://www.aota.org/olderdriver.
- Click here for the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists or visit http://www.aded.net/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1.
It is very important for seniors to be positioned properly and comfortably in the vehicle in which they ride and certain equipment can have a dramatic effect on safety and comfort. Some devices are simple and easily obtained, while others require a recommendation from a driver rehabilitation specialist.
If a senior experiences difficulty reaching to engage the seat belt, simple assistive devices are available to make this task easier. Items such as a seat belt adjuster, handibar or expanded mirrors are available either in home catalogs or at medical supply or auto parts stores. Other items that do not require a specialist to install are easy-locking seat belts, visor extenders, steering wheel covers to improve grip, seat and back support cushions to relieve back pain or improve the ability to see over the steering wheel, keyless ignition, and doors that automatically lock and open. To access resources for ordering such devices click here or visit http://www.colonialmedical.com.
The following resources provide additional information on vehicle adaptation.
- The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) advocates and supports safe, reliable vehicles and modifications to enhance accessibility for people with special needs. To view this information click here or visit http://www.nmeda.org.
- There are vehicle modification items that require an assessment by an occupational therapist or driver rehabilitation specialist to ensure proper installation and training on safe use. Examples of this include pedal extenders, panoramic mirrors, hand controls, seat lifts, steering devices, etc. To view the American Occupational Therapy Association's (AOTA) Web page on adaptive equipment, click here or visit the AOTA site at http://www1.aota.org.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) addresses automotive safety issues for persons with disabilities. To view this information, click here or visit NHTSA's Web site at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov. NHTSA has an informational brochure, Adapting Motor Vehicles for Older Drivers, which can be viewed by clicking here or visit NHTSA's Web site.