Driver Evaluation & Training
Penn State Hershey Therapy Services offers a comprehensive driver evaluation and training program for individuals who have displayed difficulty in driving or learning to drive, due to physical, cognitive, perceptual, visual, or age related impairment. The program is one of the most comprehensive in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania offering technologically advanced equipment for evaluation and training.
We provide evaluation and training for clients with the following functional or physical impairments:
- Upper or lower extremity amputation
- Brain Injury
- Cerebral Palsy
- Learning disability
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Osteogenesis Imperfecta
- Spina Bifida
- Mature driver
- Muscular Dystrophy
Our specialty fleet includes multiple vehicles with simple to very complex adaptations. We strive to remain current and consistently update our equipment or have availability of the most sophisticated equipment in the field.
Driving is an important personal accomplishment for the individual with a disability, however, it is one that requires coordination, careful and thorough evaluation and most of all, patience. Complexity and range of available options require that each individual be evaluated, trained completely, and a vehicle adapted to the exact specifications recommended by the CDRS. The result of a safe, independent driver is well worth the wait.
Many of our clients come to our program through self-referral when they feel they are no longer able to drive safely in the conventional way. Some have had a traumatic onset of disability and some have had a progressive disease that has taken away the ability to drive safely. Often family members or physicians question an individual’s ability to drive safely due to the aging process. Parents may question if their child with a physical or learning disability can learn to drive safely. We offer an objective evaluation of the client’s visual, cognitive, physical, and perceptual ability to drive. Ninety-nine percent of our patients actually get behind the wheel of one of our specially designed vehicles with no guesswork involved in the client’s ability to drive. Clients must have a medical evaluation for driving form supplied by our program and completed by their physician to be eligible for evaluation. This form assures that there are no medical reasons why the client could not drive (i.e. medication history that is contraindicated for driving).
Clients with or without a valid driver’s license may be evaluated.
Once a referral is received, contact is made with the potential client to discuss possible funding or payment options and to schedule an evaluation date.
A Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) evaluates all clients. . The CDRS has special training and knowledge in adaptive driving techniques and equipment that assures safe, independent driving. Results are discussed with the client and recommendations are made for either training with specialized equipment, continued driving the conventional way or for the client to surrender driving privileges. When it is determined the client is unsafe to continue driving, even with adaptive equipment, counseling is provided regarding alternative transportation options.
Once determined that a client can learn to drive with specialty equipment, training is provided by our CDRS. The ultimate goal is safe, independent driving.
We accompany the client to their state driving test in our vehicle so they may have adaptive equipment needs noted on their license. Once training has been completed and the client has passed their driving test, a prescription for necessary equipment is written for the client’s vehicle. Upon completion of the modifications, we often perform a check to determine if our recommendations were followed and to ensure the client is safe to drive in their own vehicle.
The program is administered by Lori Benner, OTR/CDRS, who is an Occupational Therapist with certification as a driver rehabilitation specialist (CDRS). CDRS is the only national designation of a professional who has met the qualifications to serve in the capacity of driver evaluator and trainer for persons with disabilities. Lori has served as the president of the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists and has also served on many task forces and committees exploring the needs of the aging driver.
Rick Shaffer, CDRS, is the coordinator of the program, with over 10 years of experience in the field and is specially qualified to do evaluations of clients who require adaptations with sophisticated technology.
We also offer evaluation of vehicles that will be used in the transportation of individuals with disability who may or may not be wheelchair users. To be independent in mobility, one must be able to transport their assistive device be it a manual wheelchair, scooter, or power wheelchair. The choices available today are tremendous. A well thought out plan will allow the individual and his family to resume the lifestyle important to them.
For information on Driver Evaluation and Training please call (717) 531-7105.