Wednesday, March 23, 2016

9 Things I Must Do to Be Independent in Driving

Rebecca Dutton
Home After a Stroke
March 15, 2016

Regaining independence in driving took more than being trained to drive one-handed by a certified OT driving instructor. There were nine additional skills I had to master. I begin with two tasks that able-bodied people do before they pull away from the curb.

Safety. (1) The seatbelt was always twisted when I pulled it across my body. I learned I have to make sure the seat belt is completely straight when I pull it out.

Starting the Car. (2) My left arm is my sound arm so I have to lean over to see the slot for the key. I can pull the key out thru an opening in the steering wheel because this does not require the precise placement that inserting the key demands.

Access. (3) Getting out keys for my house and car is harder than it sounds. (4) Getting out of my house has four challenges. First, I must open the door and place my cane on the porch so my sound hand is free to close and lock the door. Second, I have to step over a one inch high strip (arrows on left) as I step backwards to pull the front door closed.

Third, I have to hold the screen door open while I close the front door. I used my butt to hold the screen door open because it is a heavy wheelchair-width door. However, I dented the screen so now I push against the storm window which I keep down all year. Fourth, the photo on the right shows a shallow ledge built into the bottom of the screen door. I have to keep the heel of my hemiplegic foot from getting stuck on that ledge as I step down onto my porch. People who hold the front door open are not preparing stroke survivors for the day we want to walk out the door by ourselves.

Parking. (5) I had to learn to parallel park to pass the on-the-road test. (6) The spinner knob I use to control the steering wheel is made of a plastic that gets hotter than a regular steering wheel. I cannot afford to burn my sound hand so I am glad I found sunshades I can put up in 10 seconds to cover the windshield.

Winter Issues. Before I leave my house in the winter I have to
(7) don boots and (8) zip my coat. 

Car Maintenance. (9) Before a mechanic works on my car he shoves the car seat back because I have short legs. Before I drive away I grab the steering wheel with my hemiplegic hand to pull the seat forward while my sound hand presses down on the release bar. The photo shows what OTs call a gross grasp, but it is a skill I need to be independent in car maintenance.

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1 comment:

  1. Lots of things to figure out in order to drive. I really didn't have any of those issues EXCEPT for parallel parking during the test.