Brain injuries or stroke can be debilitating and life-changing. In many cases, people who have suffered from a brain injury may not able to drive for some time. The decision to return to driving after a brain injury is one that many people struggle with.
It’s understandable that there are fears of being behind the wheel again. However, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your transition back into driving is as safe and successful as possible; from occupational therapy to ensure you meet the legal driving requirements in the UK.
Returning To Driving After A Brain Injury
Returning to driving after a brain injury is a difficult decision whether this is driving a car or motorbike. There are concerns of the potential dangers while driving, while not forgetting about the risks of re-injuring yourself or someone else. However, it’s important to make the step and go through the process of adapting and regaining a level of independence you may have had pre-injury.
There are many good reasons to get back behind the wheel. One reason could be that you’ve adjusted to your new life after your traumatic brain injury. The other might be that you’re unable to participate in your usual activities without assistance from someone else – like visiting family and friends or going on holiday. It’s undeniable that the freedom and independence of driving is something that can provide us with a sense of purpose, so it’s important to allow yourself the opportunity to drive again even if assistance is required with adapted vehicles.
Are There Any Legal Requirements For Driving After A Brain injury?
There are legal requirements for driving after a brain injury. One of these is the requirement to inform the DVLA of any condition that affects your ability to drive. One way of informing the DVLA is to send them a B1 form. However, an individual can also call the DVLA or write a letter as other forms may be required. In these cases after informing the DVLA, they will be sending the appropriate forms to the individual depending on their medical condition(s).
The DVLA will then request a medical practitioner to advise on an individual’s medical fitness to drive. This can be an individual’s GP or a hospital consultant. Often the DVLA will approach both if a person remains under the ongoing care of the hospital consultant.
If deemed necessary, you may have to have a medical examination and/or some form of practical assessment by other health professionals – for instance, orthoptists or an OT and Specialist driving assessor at one of the regional driving assessment centres.
If you fail to tell the DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving, you may face a fine of up to £1,000; and may be held responsible if you are involved in an accident. The DVLA may also revoke your license. Therefore, it is important that you report your brain injury and get the DVLA’s approval before driving again.
Seeking Help From An Occupational Therapist
One of the best ways you can make a safe and successful return to driving after your brain injury is through occupational therapy. Occupational therapists are trained in helping people with disabilities from all walks of life, including those who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.
The occupational therapist will review your skills and determine any limitations that need to be addressed before returning to driving. The restrictions could include physical issues such as vision or dexterity problems, cognitive challenges like difficulties with memory or attention span, and/or emotional factors including depression, anxiety, and low frustration tolerance. An occupational therapist will assist you in your communications with the DVLA and the driving assessment centres if required. Following approval from the DVLA and/or the driving assessment centre OTs will work with you to meet your individual needs and assist with any adaptations that need to be made, including the use of specialised equipment.
Trust IRS Rehab To Help You Get Back Behind The Wheel
Returning to driving can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. At IRS, we can help get you back in the driving seat successfully and safely with our occupational therapy services. We understand that every case is different, which is why we carry out in-depth assessments of your condition and personal circumstances before developing an individual treatment plan. Our work will not only help empower you to drive again but will also provide you with valuable insights on how to continue living your life after a brain injury.
To get in touch with our occupational therapists, head over to our contact page.