When a stroke takes place, the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, damaging brain cells and in some cases, causing brain damage. Strokes vary widely in severity, as does the rate of recovery. After a stroke, some patients are not able to see, move, or think clearly or easily. Other patients recover fully. Some patients experience partial paralysis that is permanent or temporary.
It can be hard to accept that our ability to drive changes after a stroke, but a stroke can affect a person’s ability to drive, sometimes permanently. After a stroke, patients may have a hard time applying the brake or gas or may struggle to turn the wheel. Some patients may become confused while driving and may become frustrated, especially if patients have a hard time thinking clearly. Some patients have difficulty remaining in their lane or even understanding traffic signs.
Many patients are able to recover almost fully from a stroke and are therefore able to drive again. However, this depends on how much damage a stroke has caused. It can take some time to evaluate how extensive the damage from a stroke, which is why it is important to work with your doctor and to avoid driving until you are sure you can do so safely. Keep in mind that you may be at risk for another stroke. If you have a stroke while driving, you may lose control of your car and cause a serious car accident or pedestrian accident. For this reason, it is vital to avoid driving until your doctor says you may drive safely.
The warning signs of stroke include vision difficulties, sudden weakness or numbness (especially along one side of your body), sudden confusion, sudden difficulty speaking, sudden loss of balance, sudden difficulty with movement, dizziness, severe headache. If you experience these symptoms suddenly, get medical help immediately. If you are driving when you experience these symptoms, pull over your vehicle and get emergency help immediately. The sooner you get help after a stroke the more likely you are to recover fully.
If you have had a stroke and are worried about your driving, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may recommend that you see a driving rehabilitation specialist. A driving rehabilitation specialist can evaluate your driving skills and can help you develop a method of regaining any skills you have lost. In addition, the driving rehabilitation specialist can guide you through driving rehabilitation and can help you find devices and tools for your car that can make it easier for you to drive after a stroke.
Keep in mind that you need to be honest with your doctors and driving rehabilitation specialists. If you have worrisome symptoms, you need report them, even if you fear your license will be taken away from you. There are many options available to help you retain your independence. If there is any chance that you may recover your driving skills, a driving rehabilitation specialist will help you regain these skills. If your driving skills cannot be recovered, your doctor and driving rehabilitation specialist can help you find alternatives that allow you to keep your independence. However, if you have been told to stay off roads, it is essential that you follow this advice.