There are several reasons why you would need to undertake an occupational therapy driving assessment, or an OT driving assessment. Often this review is the first step for a disabled person in obtaining their license.
First of all, what is an OT driving assessment? These reviews are essentially tests, conducted by experienced health professionals who have undertaken postgraduate study and have the requisite qualifications, with the goal of determining if the participant’s medical impairments or disabilities have an impact on their capability to operate a vehicle.
The OT driving assessment is a two part task that involves both an off-road and on-road review of the participant’s capabilities.
The off-road component of the review involves the occupational therapist asking a series of questions about the participant’s general lifestyle, abilities, and issues they face on a day-to-day basis. This involves an examination of the participant’s medical history as well as their baseline capability in handling a vehicle.
This segment also involves a test of aptitude, examining the participant’s physical and mental abilities, including eyesight, a sensory test, ability to plan and concentrate as well as knowledge regarding road rules.
The on-road component of the OT driving assessment is usually 1 hour long with both an instructor and the occupational therapist present in the vehicle, during which the participant’s performance and capabilities are examined.
During this part of the test, the therapist is looking for how the participant interacts with hazards, different traffic scenarios, traffic signs etc. in order to judge their overall mental and physical capabilities and how it affects their skills.
At the end of the OT driving assessment, the occupational therapist will provide feedback regarding the participant’s overall performance.
Should the results of the test be satisfactory, then the occupational therapist will advise the participant that they may continue staying on the roads, either unconditionally or under the pretence of conditions such as vehicular modifications that enable easier operation or restrictions on what the participant can and can’t do (such as a lower speed limit).
If the results of the OT driving assessment are unsatisfactory, then the occupational therapist may provide opportunities to take classes, or provide enhanced equipment or vehicular modifications that enable the participant to operate the vehicle.
In other cases, the therapist will simply ask the participant to recover further and suggest retaking the OT driving assessment again at a later point in time.
In the worst case scenario the participant may be deemed permanently incapable, in which case their license may be revoked.
Returning to the road after an injury or impairment
A common reason for needing to undertake an OT driving assessment is to be able to return to the road again after suffering an injury or impairment.
In the event that you suffer a severe injury that may put you at risk of being unable to operate a vehicle (for example, losing an arm or a leg), you are legally required to report your injury to the appropriate authority.
In this scenario, the organisation will require you to perform an OT driving assessment in order to judge whether you are still fit to stay on the road.
Learning as a disabled person
Another common reason why you may need an OT driving assessment is if you are a disabled person and want to learn how to operate a vehicle.
This is an important skill as it enables disabled people to see their friends, reconnect with their communities and enhance their employment prospects. In the case of disability, this skill is often essential in their reintegration into their wider local communities and for the development of their independence.
A disabled person seeking a license must first undertake an OT driving assessment to judge the extent to which their disability affects their ability to operate a vehicle.
If the person is deemed fit, then a lesson plan can be developed for the disabled person to follow in order to start learning.
OT driving assessments are important as being able to retrieve one’s license after a disability enables individuals to reconnect with their communities. Furthermore, providing an option for disabled people to learn allows for better reintegration of these disadvantaged members into society.