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Valley Health DriveAbility Program Offers Path Forward for Drivers with Injury, Illness or Age-related Changes

Valley Health DriveAbility Program Offers Path Forward for Drivers with Injury, Illness or Age-related Changes

Submitted by Eva Buras, OT(R)

Occupational therapists have the opportunity to meet different people with different needs every day as we help them regain function or adapt to limitations in their ability to live independently and safely. Many of our older patients struggle with a loss of independence when they no longer feel comfortable or able to drive due to physical, cognitive and/or vision impairments. Even those who are advised against driving temporarily express frustration over this change in independence.

Valley Health is proud to offer “DriveAbility,” one of the only driving rehabilitation services in the northern Virginia area. Certified driver rehab specialist Sylvia Canturk, MS, OTR/L, CDRS, conducts a pre-driving assessment to evaluate the individual’s driver fitness, and from that may recommend an on-road evaluation. Based on the results of the assessment, Sylvia will identify next steps, which may include additional driving skill training, adapting the vehicle for safer operation, or identifying transportation alternatives.

During Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, we encourage the community to consider how age-related changes may impact a driver’s ability to see road signs, hazards, and other vehicles, react quickly, and make safe driving decisions. This can be hazardous for all who share the road.

There are a variety of strategies safe older drivers adopt, including staying off the road at night and in hazardous weather, planning their route in advance, and leaving a generous following distance. For other suggestions, visit the following websites:

If you feel that you or a family member would benefit from a professional DriveAbility assessment, talk to your physician about obtaining a referral for an OT driving evaluation. Sylvia specializes in working with individuals whose driving abilities have changed due to age, illness or injury. She offers an objective approach to addressing what can be a challenging lifestyle change.

For more information, visit DriveAbility | Driving Programs in VIrginia (