New service – Assessment of the ability to drive a road vehicle

The Physiotherapy and Sports Medicine Clinic in Boisbriand now offers its services to evaluate the ability to drive a road vehicle done by an occupational therapist.

This service includes two meetings with the client and the writing of a report that will be sent to the SAAQ and to the client including a comprehensive analysis of the ability to drive a road vehicle. Meetings are usually held at the client`s residence but we also have the space to do the assessment at one of our service centers.

The first encounter is used to assess the physical and cognitive abilities of the person who wishes to obtain an unrestricted license. This meeting usually lasts three hours. At first, the physical examination includes the performance of different movements and tests that aim to evaluate proprioception, strength, joint range of motion, and coordination. Next, cognitive tests evaluating different elements (eg attentional abilities, speed of information processing, comprehension, memory, abstraction abilities, visual perception, visual scanning, etc.) are administered. These elements are essential for performance when driving. The results of such tests and observations could explain the difficulties experienced when driving.

The second meeting is a road test. A meeting place, often the client’s  home, as well as a time slot are usually pre-determined. The delay is usually one week. The road test lasts one hour and requires the presence of a driving supervisor and a car with emergency brakes. It is our occupational therapist who takes the steps to meet these requirements and therefore makes an appointment with the supervisor of a driving school in the region. The person will be asked to go to places they are familiar with and to follow the instructions of the driving instructor who will ensure that certain elements are observed (lane change, entry on the highway, unprotected turns, backward parking, etc.). Some people with several cognitive or physical difficulties identified at the first meeting are able to develop compensatory strategies to keep their driving safe on the road. This is always considered and the person will not be penalized if driving remains safe.

When is this type of evaluation necessary?

The assessment of the ability to drive a road vehicle by an occupational therapist is a procedure that is required by the Société de l ‘assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) following a medical appointment where the doctor has identified physical or cognitive problems which could have an impact on the ability to drive a vehicle. Individuals identified by the SAAQ will receive a letter in the mail asking them to do a functional assessment by an occupational therapist. If you want to take courses or improve certain maneuvers, make an appointment with a driving school.