Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (DRS) can work in many settings and with clients across the age spectrum from teens to seniors. Some programs are part of a hospital system and may provide partial or complete assessments and consultations for clients leaving acute care, sub-acute or inpatient rehabilitation. In some cases, the patient’s discharge disposition may depend on whether they will be able to drive once they return home. Passenger evaluations may be offered for clients who will need to be safely transported in wheelchairs. As part of the therapy team, the DRS may identify deficits that need to be addressed to improve skills needed for driving. Driver Rehabilitation Specialists often work in outpatient settings and rehabilitation centers and may work with clients whose disability is of long standing. Other career options include Driver Rehabilitation Specialists having private practices or working in conjunction with a driving school.
At the completion of the certificate program, the Driver Rehabilitation Specialist will be able to:
- Devise a plan for developing a driver rehabilitation program.
- Explain to clients and other health professionals when it is appropriate to be referred to a driver rehabilitation program, educate them on equipment, and inform them about funding sources.
- Measure driving fitness via a comprehensive driving evaluation consisting of in-clinic, on-road, or in the driving simulator using evidenced based assessments for specific diagnosis such as dementia, traumatic brain injury, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease.
- Formulate recommendations that can include resumption/continuation of driving, training, driving with restrictions or adaptive equipment or if necessary driving cessation.
- Employ in-clinic interventions to target specific skills needed for driving.
- Design on-road routes that are constructed from best evidence and best clinical practices.
- Plan and conduct behind the wheel (in-vehicle or via a driving simulator) training to address specific visual, cognitive, motor, or other sensory deficits.
- Choose the most appropriate simulator for a client population and facility, select driving scenarios that best challenge and train clients based on their clinical phenomena, and institute protocols to help mitigate simulator sickness.
- Formulate equipment prescriptions for vehicle modifications.
- Collaborate with wheelchair clinics on the selection of a wheelchair when a client has the goal of driving. This knowledge can help clients and therapists make cost-effective and practical decisions.
- Collaborate with mobility vendors regarding adaptive driving equipment and wheelchair accessible vehicles.
- Provide community mobility options to assists clients who will not be independent drivers.
For professionals interested in entrepreneurial work, driver rehabilitation can be an ideal practice area. Often Driver Rehabilitation Specialists start with a car and assessment tools, then travel to clients’ homes reducing much of the overhead and making the service more acceptable, affordable, and available for clients and their families. Through the Driver Rehabilitation Therapy program, you will acquire knowledge pertinent to starting and growing your own driver rehabilitation program.