Stroke Survivors Aren’t Being Tested Before Getting Back In The Driver’s Seat

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Source: Brian Snelson

Source: Brian Snelson

Strokes can have serious long term affects on victims. Stroke survivors often face problems with speaking, thinking, seeing, and control of their bodies. But, new research says many stroke survivors are getting back behind the wheel before they have been formally evaluated.

According to the survey, less than 6 percent of stroke survivors say they have been given a formal driving evaluation following their stroke. But, more than 51 percent said they returned to driving, often within a month of their stroke. Out of those who reported returning to driving, 31 percent said their strokes still had “some effect” on basic daily activities such as feeding, bathing, and dressing oneself. Eleven percent said the stroke had “great effect.”

“Given the severity of stroke for some of these patients, it really surprised me that they would actually be able to get behind the wheel,” said Dr. Shelly Ozark, a professor of neurology at the Medical University of South Carolina and lead researcher on the survey presented Thursday at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference.

Ozark says that every stroke patient should be evaluated before driving again, which is a more hard-line stance than the official position of the American Stroke Association. The ASA suggests that stroke victims should consult their doctors before driving, which may or may not lead to a formal evaluation.

Most of the participants in the survey who said their stroke had some or great affect on their daily activities limited their driving. They would only drive close to home or to important places such as church or the grocery store. But, they could still be putting themselves and others at risk by driving in the first place.

Any stroke survivor can get retested by their State Departments of Motor Vehicles, but you can also visit a private driving rehabilitation specialist who may recommend special changes to a vehicle to make it easier to drive. But, all of these measures are strictly voluntary.

“There basically isn’t anything on the books in the majority of states that demands people get retested in their driving abilities following a major health event such as stroke,” Ozark said.

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