06/12/2009 - Questions and Answers

How to Regain Confidence Driving after a Stroke?

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Question

My father has had a stroke but has regained his physical abilities. His problem is a loss of confidence driving his car although he wants to return to driving.. He really needs his car as he lives a way from friends and activities. What can be done to help him?

 

Answer

Driving is often a major concern after a stroke. It's not unusual for stroke survivors to want to drive as being able to get around after a stroke is important. While safety is always an issue when a person gets behind the wheel, it's even more important after a stroke. Injury to the brain may change how you do things.Because of the potential effects of stroke or a trans ischemic attack (TIA), driving is not permitted for at least a month after the event. If, after that time, your father's doctor agrees that he is fit to drive, he may resume doing so. However, you may have noticed changes in your father's communication, thinking, judgment or behavior that should be evaluated before he drives again.
 

So a first step is for your father to get assessed by a driving school professional or a driver rehabilitation specialist. Either one can quickly identify deficiencies and if the driver is an improvement candidate, chart the remedy needed. By being told by a professional that he is indeed capable of continuing driving, this will help to boost his confidence to the level where he will be prepared to 'give it a go' Older persons especially, have much to gain if driving skills and judgement can be maintained or even enhanced. The good news is that studies show some older drivers can regain once lost skills and judgement. Some are even able to exceed levels considered previously adequate. Those who have successfully returned to the wheel with improved skills and judgement often call motivation the 'secret ingredient.' It means your driver (in this case, your father) has to want to take the path. It's not easy and often a lot of work. But if your father is able to return to the wheel with enhanced confidence, skills and judgement, it is a payoff you can't put a number on.
 

As your father has had a stroke, this advice re lifestyle changes for helping prevent further strokes may be beneficial to both yourself and your father. Major risk factors for stroke that cannot be changed are: heredity, race, gender and age. Other Major risk factors that CAN be controlled or changed are: High blood pressure, a heart attack (myocardial infarction, or MI), raised blood cholesterol, the irregular heart beat known as atrial fibrillation, diabetes, narrowed carotid arteries, and 4 important lifestyle factors -- Smoking, Diet, Exercise and Alcohol use. High levels of stress can also be a contributing factor. So it is important that your father, or anyone who wishes to help prevent a stroke, Cease smoking, eat the correct diet, commence regular exercise, lose weight (if overweight), lower stress levels and treat high blood pressure with medication, and use alcohol sensibly, not excessively. High fibre foods: breads, pasta, rice, cereals, dried peas and beans, fruits, and vegetables are good sources of complex carbohydrates (starch and fibre). They are excellent substitutes for foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. The type of fibre found in foods such as oat and barley bran, some fruits like apples and oranges, and in some dried beans helps prevent high cholesterol and may even help reduce blood cholesterol levels. Any exercise is beneficial, such as walking , swimming, gardening ect, the important factor being that the exercise is sufficient and regular.
 

Related Links
Driving after a stroke
Stroke Rehabilitation - Including driving
How can I tell if I can drive?
What are some warning signs of unsafe driving?

Created on: 01/29/2007
Reviewed on: 06/12/2009

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