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Driving To Recovery Or Assessing Your Safety

When it comes to getting behind the wheel and putting the keys in the engine of the vehicle, everyone’s main goal is to maintain or regain your independence. Driving is an automatic task when your body and brain are in sync. Driving gets you from point A to point B, however, if you experience a major medical incident or age-related decline in your body’s reactions your driving safety may be impacted.

So how do you know when is the right time to find out if your driving skills are still sharp? If you have questions, then it’s time to team up with Kaitlin Finch, FHW Occupational Therapist who specializes in assessing and rehabilitating the fine-tuned skills required to get back behind the steering wheel of a car.

“I find fulfillment in establishing trust with my clients, assuring them that their well-being is my priority. My joy comes from supporting them through the evaluation process, providing encouragement, and fostering the confidence needed to resume driving. Helping individuals regain independence on the road is truly meaningful work,” Finch said. “I also appreciate the service to families I can provide in a difficult time in navigating such a challenging discussion if retirement is the best and safest option for the client.”

Whether the question about your safety to drive is posed by you or your loved one, we invite you to learn about the options for assessment that we offer and some ideas on how to approach the topic, if needed. Giving up your independence or approaching the tender topic with your loved one isn’t something taken lightly. It might be time to have a professional determine your current capabilities and level of safety (or theirs) – for you and others on the road. Our Occupational Therapist and Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist at FHW can offer a safe solution to test drive your current skills and neutrally assess your safety on the road. It’s a win-win situation for all.

Family Health West offers a program that puts you in the driver’s seat and provides an independent assessment of your driving skills, removing the judgment from those who care about you. For example, in the case of a major medical incident, like a stroke, you might need to do rehabilitative therapy to re-learn many of the actions and functions that used to be second nature to you. That’s where our occupational therapy driving rehabilitation program fits into your recovery. It can be an active part in the various levels of therapy you need and participate in to get you back to living your best life.

Having your driving assessed by a professional who isn’t your caretaker or related to you can provide unbiased feedback rather than cause family division. Family Health West Hospital offers the only driving rehabilitative program in western Colorado that can also provide adaptive driving and equipment recommendations. Sometimes a pedal extension or an adaptive piece to your steering wheel can be just the added touch you need to maintain a safe driving record.

The program is open to anyone of legal driving age. It’s available for those needing remedial driving skills to get back to their full independence or anyone wanting to assess their safety on the road. Having a physician’s referral is required to be evaluated but it is as simple as letting your primary care physician know you want to explore the driving rehab options we have here at the Family Health West Hospital.

We invite you to come and learn more about your program and speak with our Rehabilitation staff in person at an upcoming community meeting series. The two Driver Rehabilitation leads, Kaitlin Finch, MOT, OTR/L, CDRS, and Jill Wohlgemuth, OTR/L, CDRS, will be on hand during a free, community meeting held on Wednesday, December 13, 2023. This one-hour community engagement will be held in the Fruita Recreation Center from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.; in the Mesa County Public Library, downtown Grand Junction community room, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.; and, in the Mt. Garfield community room at the new Mesa County Public Library in Clifton, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Each location will host the same information, so we invite you to attend whichever meeting best fits your schedule.

To explore if this program could positively impact your life or the life of someone you care about, call the FHW Hospital Rehabilitative Occupational Therapy office at (970) 858-2147 or visit https://fhw.org/services/rehab/.

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