After people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, once rehabilitation has been completed, and before they can return to work, their various Occupational Therapists often refer their clients for driving evaluations.
Confidential medical reports are shared and filed.
A brief or comprehensive report is written after a comprehensive evaluation in a quiet residential area, busy arterial roads, freeways, mid-city (in Pretoria), including taxi-world in Marabastad may form the basis of trying to establish if a person has recovered sufficiently to resume driving.
These reports are highly confidential and are treated with the greatest respect, so clearly they cannot be discussed online.
However, once such recent client was very happy to offer a testimony as to her experience, which is copied and pasted here in the interests of encouraging others in the same situation.
In Desiree Klopper’s case she had not driven since August 2018. Her Occupational Therapist referred her to Professional Driving Academy for defensive and advanced training due to the long period she was not able to work and drive, and how badly she was affected by her health emergency.
Here is her testimony, with sincere thanks for her courage and generosity:
Tue 2019/06/25 3:22 PM
Thank you once again for the driving instructions you gave me.
After the brain surgery I received, I was told that I need to be evaluated by means of a return to driving program for me to receive permission to drive my vehicle. It was understandable as I needed to learn to walk, talk and write again.
I was under the impression that I only need to get an assessment testing my concentration and reaction time while driving as I have cleared all the other tests from the occupational therapist, the optometrist and the medical doctor. To my greatest shock I found out that I had to undergo advanced driving lessons.
I must admit that I was very negative. I saw it as a complete waste of time and money. After all, I received my driver’s license 29 years ago already. Therefore, in my opinion I could still drive. My feeling was that I just need to practice a bit to get my confidence levels up again as I did not drive for almost a year by that time.
To my greatest surprise, there was so much that I did not know and that I did wrong. Years of bad driving behaviour as well as not using K53 methods was taking its toll. Crossing my arms when turning and not observing correctly before entering intersections were only two of the mistakes I made. Braking in corners (which can cause a rear-wheel skid as the heavy engine in front dips down and rear wheel lose traction on the road, sometimes on loose gravel,) and changing gears at the same time, while turning, while crossing arms and not checking blind spots was the style of driving I had previously learnt, never realizing how dangerous it was. We also learnt to look at painted road markings and use them correctly.
The second lesson was all about theory. Learning “the system of vehicle control,” which taught me the correct order of actions on my approach to hazards. I sat for 2 hours and took everything in. It was a combination of things I knew and things that was completely new to me. The next 3 lessons were theory and then driving where I had to do everything that I learned in all the previous lessons. These sessions made me realise that everybody that has never done an advanced driving course should make the effort to do it. It was one of the best things that I could do for myself and Pat is one of the most patient and nicest instructors I ever had.
Therefore, I would refer Professional Driving Academy of South Africa to anyone that wants to undergo driving lessons, whether it is for normal lessons to receive a driver’s licence or for advanced/defensive driver training.
A note from Pat’s side:
I commend Desiree for attending six two-hour advanced driving lessons. I know what a huge shock it is to change over from an ordinary South African driving style to this style. We can mock it, but it virtually guarantees safe driving for the rest of our lives, despite other people’s bad driving around us and poor weather conditions etc. For me that makes it worth it!
We took it very gently, since she had been hospitalised for months after a large tumour was removed from her brain.
One must respect the human body while it is recovering. Gentle theoretical lessons gave her the opportunity to absorb the essential details to be able to protect herself once she started driving again.
Desiree’s daily commute to work was 42 km on a very busy freeway. By the time we drove that route together, Desiree was very comfortable and coping easily. She was thrilled to drive to work again and to pop in at her office and visit her colleagues after almost a year. Everybody made her feel so welcome. Her life as she knew it would soon be back to normal!
I am very proud of her outcome and wish her many years of safe driving. Her experience is very encouraging to us all, since ill-health can affect any of us unexpectedly and that is when we can become afraid, fearing that our lives are over, and that we will become dependent on others and a burden to them. No adult enjoys that!
At Professional Driving Academy the aim is to restore a person’s independence and dignity once they have been cleared by their medical team.