Driver rehabilitation specialists addresses students
DuBois – Timothy Brant, a certified driver rehabilitation specialist and owner of Brant's Driving School in Johnstown, recently spoke to Penn State DuBois student in the Occupational Therapy Assistant program about adaptive driving. According to LuAnn Demi, Instructor in Occupational Therapy, Brant was the latest in a series of guest lectures and outings for students in the Assistive Technology and Methods of Adaptation class, with the objective to see different adaptive equipment and technology used with individuals who have a disability.
Brant's Driving School is one of the few locations in the United States certified for adaptive driving evaluation, training and vehicle modification. Brant and his associates have worked with people who have suffered from a stroke, debilitating motor vehicle accident, muscular dystrophy and spinal cord injuries. Often, clients are referred to Brant from physicians or family members who are concerned about a client's ability to drive given advancing age and subsequent onset of mental, motor skill or vision disabilities. The school has drawn clients from throughout the country and Canada.
Brant will test the client on spatial orientation, making sure the eyes are working together and the brain is acknowledging key signs, signals and laws, and following the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation standards for testing. Brant also tests range of motion and motor coordination, he told the students. But if a client fails, Brant's Driving School will not report the client to PennDOT, nor pull anyone's driver's license. Rather, a written assessment is provided to the referring physician or family member and client, with a recommendation as to whether the client can be rehabilitated for driving.
Various adaptive tools can be used in the vehicle, or the vehicle can be modified to accommodate a particular disability. Brant displayed a series of steering knobs, adapted gas and brake pedals, straps and transferring assistance that make driving easier or even possible. The agency also provides discussion and counseling for those who can no longer drive.
"For the elderly, it's like their last bit of independence, and it's difficult to come to grips with when driving must stop. So we help them cope with that. We say you plan to retire from a job, and so you should also plan to retire from driving," Brant said.
Brant said it is a very beneficial process: it helps someone return to driving after a traumatic event; it may give someone the opportunity to drive who never thought it was possible; it identifies someone who is not safe to drive by administering an objective, professional report; and it helps physicians with the technical aspect of their medical findings.