Getting back behind the wheel

Are you driven to drive again?
Driving plays a big role in how we see ourselves and our emotional recovery. But changes due a stroke can challenge our continued ability to drive safely, and driving is a complex and multifaceted task that can be cognitively demanding at times.

Your physician usually reports that you had a stroke to the DMV.
  • If so, your license will be placed on suspension. 
  • If not, you -- or a family member -- can report your stroke.
In either case. you must then submit a medical clearance form from your doctor to the DMV. Assuming the doctor says you can, you will have to be retested through the DMV.

Here are some helpful links:

Modifying your car
State law may require that a driving rehabilitation specialist give a prescription for vehicle modifications. Here are the common car modifications (as explained in this article):
  • Weakness of the right leg: If the stroke survivor can’t transition from the brake to the accelerator, a mechanic can install a left-foot accelerator that allows the person to drive using his or her left foot. It’s a fairly simple adaptation that costs about $500.
  • Weakness of upper extremity: If the left arm is impaired and the person can’t signal turns, there’s a crossover signal device that maneuvers the signal to the right side of the steering wheel. It costs about $100. The mechanic can also install a spinner knob on the steering wheel, which allows the person to steer safely with one hand. It also costs about $100.
  • Visual perception impairments: There are accessories that can be attached to mirrors to eliminate blind spots. If the stroke survivor has double vision, a neuro-ophthalmologist can prescribe special glasses that might alleviate the problem.
Any vehicle modification should be installed by a professional with special expertise in this area. Most of these dealers belong to the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA). When looking to purchase vehicle modifications, look for a NMEDA-QAP dealer. Your occupational therapist should be able to suggest mobility dealers in your area.

The best modification of your car, of course, is your disabled-person parking placard, which is free. Contact your state DMV for more info.