Kinesiotherapy and Driver Rehabilitation

Robert Ordonez, MPA, RKT

As the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age, the United States faces a safety dilemma. The number of Americans aged 65 years and older will double from 35 million today to 70 million by 2030, when there will be 60 million licensed drivers aged 70 and older.1 Subsequently,  as the population begins to age,  it also increases their vulnerability to chronic health and physiological limitations. Unfortunately, these limitations may cause an increased risk to safe driving.

What does this mean for Kinesiotherapists?

As Kinesiotherapists, we have the knowledge and educational background to become a Driver Rehabilitation Specialist to assist the driving needs of this growing population. As healthcare moves towards specialized services, this is an excellent way for Kinesiotherapist to be involved in this quickly emerging profession.

What is a Driver Rehabilitation Specialist?

A Driver’s Rehabilitation Specialist evaluates, trains, and counsels the disabled, elderly, and those with special needs in the areas of driving.

Older drivers who begin to sustain more health problems are increasingly likely to interact with Kinesiotherapists, whether or not the therapist specializes in driver rehabilitation. Kinesiotherapists specializing in driver rehabilitation can evaluate the entire picture, from physical health to cognition. Kinesiotherapist Driver Rehabilitation Specialist generally provide driving services that will address the unique needs of individuals who would like to drive after a severe mental and/or physical illness or disability. Services that are typically provided may include but are not limited to: clinical assessment (cognitive, vision, physical), driving simulation, and behind the wheel evaluation and training. The Kinesiotherapist Driver Rehabilitation Specialist can also perform additional functions as needed such as:  referral to the Department of Motor Vehicles, vehicle lift evaluation and a full adapted vehicle evaluation as a driver or passenger.

How can I become a Driver Trainer within the VA (Veterans Administration)?

Kinesiotherapists who are employed with the VA can register for the VA Driver’s Training Instructor Training Course. This is a two week course provided by VACO (VA Central Office) and EES (Employee Education System). This course, which is led and hosted by Kinesiotherapists, is conducted twice a year at the Long Beach VAMC. This course will provide you with the basic skills, knowledge and practical experience to become a Driver Trainer within the VA. Your local facility will need to approve your participation in this program as well as provide funding for travel, per diem and hotel stay. If you are interested please feel free to contact Robert Ordonez @ robert.ordonez@va.gov.

It should be noted that this course will enable you to practice as a Driver Trainer within the VA system only but does not certify you as a Driver Rehabilitation Specialist. However, this course will provide you with specialized training and experience that can be counted towards becoming a Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialists (CDRSs). You can find more information regarding the criteria for becoming a CDRS by visiting the Association of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED) website  http://www.driver-ed.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1.

Kinesiotherapists who are not employed with the VA and have specialized training in driver rehabilitation can also visit the ADED webpage for further information.

References

1. U.S. Department of Transportation. (2003). Safe mobility for a maturing society: challenges and opportunities. Washington, DC: Author.

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