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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Driver recovers after stroke

  • For most of us, getting behind the wheel of our cars is routine. We get in, fasten our seat belts, turn the key, check for traffic, work the steering wheel and pedals, and perform other tasks required to safely get from point A to point B. But for some adults, the skills required for something usually taken for granted can be lost due to a stroke or other ailment that robs patients of these necessary motor skills.
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  • For most of us, getting behind the wheel of our cars is routine. We get in, fasten our seat belts, turn the key, check for traffic, work the steering wheel and pedals, and perform other tasks required to safely get from point A to point B. But for some adults, the skills required for something usually taken for granted can be lost due to a stroke or other ailment that robs patients of these necessary motor skills.
    A recent stroke left McPherson resident Dean Allison with severe limitations in muscle strength, balance and hand-eye coordination.
    “My post-stroke condition was a huge change from my prior level of function,” he said. “I imagine that from a clinical point of view, it would be considered mild, but to me, it was severe.”
    After his stroke, he had a simple question for his doctor: could he drive again? But it was not an easy answer. Allison’s physician wasn’t sure he still had the visual and cognitive skills to operate a car so he was referred to the Occupational Therapy Department at McPherson Hospital. There, a new standardized assessment was performed to determine his level of function. The assessment investigates the basic functional abilities necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle.
    This new service of McPherson Hospital’s Rehabilitation Services Department assesses the skills involved in safe driving and makes recommendations to the patient, the patient’s family and physician for car adaptations when appropriate or for further intervention and care.
    Conditions that may prompt the assessment include but are not limited to head or spinal cord injuries, difficulty getting out of a chair, neurological disorders and difficulty with attention, memory, comprehension, and visual tasks.
    The brief, partially-computerized test allowed Dean to identify his own deficiencies that would have limited his ability to drive.
    “It focuses on things you don’t even consider when you drive,” he said. “I was not going to be able to drive unless I had some sort of clearance. It was not only important for me but also for other people on the road. After some therapy, knowing that I had the skills to drive gave me the confidence to get behind the wheel again and to regain my independence.”

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