Nothing beats the freedom of driving on the open road, and this means so much more after a spinal cord injury. With limited mobility, the freedom that driving brings is life-changing. Getting behind the wheel again after a spinal cord injury, however, is no easy feat. Adapted driving training will be needed to learn how to use hand controls and any other equipment you may need.
In Florida, there are several options to choose from in adaptive driving schools. These driving schools are based throughout the state, with many located in rehabilitation hospitals. Insurance is also accepted at many of these adaptive driving schools. Read on to discover the best adaptive driving schools in Florida.
1) Grace Adaptive Driving
A subsidiary of Ginger Fitness and Rehabilitation, Grace Adapted Driving is one of the leading adaptive driving schools in Florida. They have over 20 years of experience in teaching people with disabilities how to use adaptive equipment and adaptive driving evaluations. They also have experience helping install adaptive driving equipment in a variety of vehicles.
Almost all of their services are private pay, but they offer plenty of funding sources on their site including the Fast New Horizon Assistive Technology Loan Program. To take part in adapted driving lessons or evaluation with Grace Adaptive Driving, they have locations in Tampa, Wesley Chapel, Lakeland, Orlando, and Gainesville.
2) UFHealth SmartDriver Rehab
For those in the Gainesville area and throughout North Central Florida, a good adaptive driving school is the University of Florida's SmartDriver Rehab program, also known as UF SmartDriver Rehab. This robust adaptive driving school offers adaptive driving classes for a variety of neurological disabilities, including spinal cord injuries. This program is impressively comprehensive, offering clinical assessments to assess your driving skills and driving evaluations using their state-of-the-art driving simulator.
UFHealth SmartDriver Rehab stands out for offering vehicle modification strategies, recommending environmental strategies and providing remediation to help the effects of your injury. You must have a driver's license to participate in their program and have a referral from your doctor. This school offers financial assistance for those who are unable to pay for their fees.
3) Memorial Driving Assessment
Located on the East coast of Florida in Hollywood is the Memorial Rehabilitation Institute Driving program. Part of the Memorial Healthcare System, this adaptive driving school will assess if you are safe to drive, provides adaptive equipment recommendations and drivers training. After taking your clinical assessment with this program, they will have you take a behind the wheel assessment in their program vehicle to see which adaptive driving equipment you will need. The Memorial Rehabilitation Institute Driving Program also recommends community resources, such as where to buy mobility equipment for your vehicle.
4) West Florida Healthcare Driving Program
West Florida Hospital, located in Pensacola, Florida, is the home of the West Florida Driving Program. Their adaptive driving school operates out of their occupational therapy department and provides training in the use of adaptive devices to help you drive again. They offer both pre-driving evaluations, including strength and dexterity assessments, as well as behind the wheel evaluations. You can also get prescriptions for your adaptive devices and consultations for local adaptive equipment providers. You must have had a driver licensed for six months to participate in this program.
People of all levels of injury can drive again after a spinal cord injury. As long as you have a Florida driver's license and a physician's referral, you can take part in an adaptive driving program to see if you can drive. It is even possible for people with limited arm mobility to drive using their wheelchair joystick. You can learn all of this and more by contacting any of the above adaptive driving schools above.
Written by Spinal Cord TeamSpinalCord.com has been created as a resource for patients of spinal cord injuries and their families. Find everything you need to learn more about your injury, locate a doctor or treatment center, or discover financial relief to support you through this difficult time.
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