Driver Rehabilitation – Does It Work?
Does the idea of driving excite you? Does the idea of becoming suddenly unable to drive send you into a panic?
I had spent a ton of money putting a strong running Corvette engine into my Camaro. Driving was in my blood. After my motorcycle crash, fear that I wouldn’t drive again loomed large and filled me with desperation. I had to drive again!
“Not a chance.” The doctors all agreed that driving was out of the question. They did their best to convince me my driving days were over, but I couldn’t accept it. Looking back, it seems like people who devoted their lives to helping folks rehabilitate would want driver rehab to be included. Looking back, it’s like they never hear of driver rehabilitation.
At first, I thought they might be using reverse psychology to get my fighting spirit even more determined, but when they kept saying the same thing, depression hung over me as I realized they were serious. Even though many drivers successfully rehabilitate, no one would give me a chance. The hospital I was in didn’t have a driver retraining program, so once I was out, I went to a hospital that does have a driver rehabilitation program.
“I’m sorry,’ they said. “You won’t be able to drive again.”
What did they mean, “I’m sorry?” Didn’t they get it? I couldn’t give in to the challenges facing me. I had to drive again. I had to! But no one was helping. What would I do?
After I tried my every option, Dad revealed a surprise. He wanted to see me drive again, and he believed I could. He didn’t believe it strong enough to let me learn how in his car, though, so we started looking for someone who had an old car. I wonder if I would have let a brain damaged guy who’d been told he would never drive again practic e driving my car.
Rehabbing Your Drive to Drive
The question of whether Dad actually believed I could learn to drive again deepens when it is realized that my parents didn’t want me practicing in their car. Luckily, my 9th grade music teacher happened to have an old, beat up Oldsmobile he hardly ever used. We borrowed it and went out driving. I drove between and through all the small towns around my house.
One day, a siren wails and red lights flash. “Oh no!” I moan. “What does he want?” I pull over to the side of the road and look in my rear-view mirror just in time to see an officer climb out of his car. I can’t be sure, but I think he brushed powder sugar and doughnut crumbs off his shirt before marching up to my car. I roll my window down.
“Have you been drinking young man?” the officer asks. Of course I said no, but my speech impairment is so thick, his suddenly shocked expression almost knocks his glasses off. Dad jumps into the conversation and explains what we’re doing. The officer smiles.
“Good luck,” he says. “I hope you do it.” As a traffic cop, he probably had first hand experience with how valuable driver rehabilitation is to those of us facing challenges caused by disabilities or age. Achieving safe, independent driving can be a life saver, in more ways than one.
Every time the elevator passed another floor, the bell rang. We reached the fourth floor. The bell rang, and I got out then hobbled down the same old hall I’d hobbled down about a million times before. I stop in front of the same old door. Knock, knock, knock.
“Come in.” I turned the knob and hobbled in straight to a dark brown leather chair. Once seated comfortably, I sat back, facing my psychologist. My heart beat wildly. I’d waited for this moment. I’d rehearsed it in my head. I knew every detail.
“How are you feeling today?” he asked.
“Good. How are you?” Slowly, dramatically, I got myself comfortable, relishing every moment. “So sir, do you think I’ll ever be able to drive again?”
“Al, we’ve been over this and over this. You will never drive again!”
A Lesson In Driver Rehabilitation
The time had come to share my experience with driver rehabilitation and personal determination. Professionals who work in the field of helping folks regain their driving skills use adaptive equipment and modified vehicles to help folks attain or reattain independent transportation. All this happened a super long time ago, but I still remember how I smiled as I pulled out my wallet. My heart skipped a beat as I opened it. I never wanted this to end. I couldn’t keep from smiling wide as I held up my reacquired drivers license..