Transportation Resource: Driver Rehabilitation

Image of a person from the neck down sitting in a blue van with their legs partially out of the vehicle. In front of the vehicle is a wheelchair.

The Driver Evaluation and Rehabilitation Program at Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Institute is an outpatient rehabilitation organization serving adolescents and adults with acquired brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other neurological diseases and disorders. The program evaluates the driving potential and ability of those living with conditions such as brain or spinal cord injury, stroke, amputation, low vision, dementia, or learning disabilities, that could make driving unsafe.

Located at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the Driver Rehabilitation center provides skilled clinicians certified in driver rehabilitation and occupational therapy, personalized care and treatment plans to meet your unique needs and health goals, and support. They also offer a full range of tests, treatments, and services, including:

  • Adaptive driving equipment training
  • Bioptic driving training, and
  • Driver evaluations.

Once you’ve set up an appointment with the Driver Rehabilitation program, here’s what you can expect:

Your Appointment
The first appointment is a formal assessment of the basic physical, visual and cognitive skills needed to safely operate a motor vehicle. Skills assessed include reaction speed, range of motion, coordination, strength, balance, visual acuity, visual fields, depth perception, road sign recognition, attention, memory and judgment. This appointment is done in-person and takes two hours.

For the second appointment, the driver must have a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit. This is a driving assessment and is done in a provided vehicle.  The driver will begin the assessment of their driving skills in a parking lot and on quiet neighborhood streets and will progress to busier streets and interstate traffic if appropriate. More complex tasks may be asked of the driver which involves following written driving directions and/or trying different types of adaptive equipment, when necessary.  This assessment may also take two hours and a family member or support is asked to be present at the assessment for a review of the recommendations at the end of the session.

After Your Evaluation
At the end of your second appointment, recommendations will be made following a review of the evaluation results. A family member or representative should be present during this review. The data from your evaluation will be provided to your physician, and possibly, the state department of safety. This information will be used to determine whether you are a safe driver.

It is important to note that the occupational therapist assigned to your assessment does not make a final determination about your legal status to drive. That decision can only be made by the department of safety of your licensing state.

For more information on the Driver Evaluation and Rehabilitation Program click here or call 615-936-5040.