driving and mobility assessments Archives - Driving Mobility

Ayrshire’s Sarah with MS ‘back being Mum’ thanks 
to DriveAbility Scotland

Sarah Sullivan, 34 from Kilmarnock, has been able to continue driving with multiple sclerosis thanks to expert guidance from Glasgow’s DriveAbility Scotland.

Sarah Sullivan, 34 from Kilmarnock, has been able to continue driving with multiple sclerosis thanks to expert guidance from Glasgow’s DriveAbility Scotland.

Sarah, Mum of 10-year-old Charlotte, came to accept in the summer of 2022 that she was struggling to drive safely. Diagnosed with MS in 2014, her progressive condition meant she was experiencing mobility difficulties and reduced sensation in her feet – so operating a brake and accelerator pedal was becoming a challenge. 

Sarah already owned a standard automatic car; however, the driving controls no longer met her needs as she explains: “I had started to avoid driving as my MS was getting worse. I still hoped for a while that the symptoms would go away, but they didn’t, so I knew I had to do something to get back on the road. I was staying at home more and more. At one point I’d been in the house all week and I thought this is ridiculous, I can’t go on like this, I must do something to try and get driving again.”

Sarah’s predicament was impacting on many aspects of family life. The main problem was not being able to give Charlotte lifts to school, friends, and her performing arts club. Sarah’s shopping trips and regular hospital appointments also meant reliance on others or using public transport which was challenging for a time-pressured mum using a powered wheelchair. 

Sarah continues: “Things needed to change. So, after speaking to my neurologist, I was signposted towards DriveAbility Scotland who would assess me and recommend the right driving controls to get me back behind the wheel. I had an appointment at their centre in October and was assessed by an Occupational Therapist and Approved Driving Instructor.  I was quite apprehensive before my visit; however, they immediately put me at ease by explaining it was not a test, it was an assessment. Due to weakness in my legs and arms, it was agreed that I should try driving with a steering wheel under-ring and radial push brake.  Well, it felt a bit odd at first but to be fair, I got my head around using these controls pretty quickly. This meant I could drive without using my legs, amazing!” 

Following her assessment and receipt of a written report, Sarah was given the names of recommended vehicle convertors who could adapt her car with the new driving controls. Sarah chose AIC Glasgow to fit the under-ring and radial push brake and within a few weeks she was driving full-time and back ‘being Mum’.

Sarah concludes: “Being able to drive means we can live a normal life; I can be the ‘Mum taxi’ again. I spend most of my time driving Charlotte around to her friends and various activities and share the school runs with other parents. I’m absolutely loving it. Using my new adaptations now feels second nature. It took me a bit of time to get totally used to them, and remembering I can’t wave at people, but today I don’t think twice about how to get about. I think the superb support from DriveAbility Scotland has helped me get my confidence back so quickly and they were brilliant all the way through. I’d recommend their services to everyone in Scotland looking for ways to drive independently with conditions such as MS.”

Teenage quadruple amputee Izzy aims for driving independence thanks to Driving Mobility

Izzy, aged 16 and quadruple amputee, has just received her brand-new adapted car and started specialist driving lessons thanks to the Derby-based Driving Mobility centre.

Izzy, aged 16 and quadruple amputee, has just received her brand-new adapted car and started specialist driving lessons thanks to the Derby-based Driving Mobility centre.

Driving Mobility accredits 20 independent driving assessments centres across the UK, with over 70 outreach facilities, which provide clinically-led driving and mobility assessments. Service users self-refer or are signposted from the DVLA, Motability, Police and healthcare professionals such as GPs and Occupational Therapists (OT). Each Driving Mobility Centre, such as the NHS facility at Kingway Hospital Derby (Derby DrivAbility), provide guidance and support to individuals with restricted mobility. A large number of young disabled people use these services when aiming to drive for the first time such as Izzy.

Izzy contracted meningococcal septicaemia aged 7 which resulted in life-saving amputations. As a young teenager Izzy was keen to learn to drive however, she knew adapted controls would be needed. Izzy was referred to the Driving Mobility Centre by her OT who was based at the City Hospital in Nottingham. Being able to drive was simply another challenge Izzy would take on without hesitation thanks to her determined attitude.

Following an initial telephone consultation, Izzy visited the Derby-based Driving Mobility Centre to meet an OT and ADI (Approved Driving Instructor). To help ascertain the right vehicle for her needs, Izzy was paired up with another service user, Angela Yates, who also was a quadruple amputee. Angela has previously achieved driving independence through the support of the Centre and so discussed the type of car and adapted controls that worked for her. This gave Izzy confidence that she could achieve her goal, not that extra confidence was really required thanks to her positive personality.

A driving assessment was arranged so that Izzy could try a vehicle with suitably adapted controls.  Accompanied by an ADI and OT, she drove using a radial accelerator, push away brake, steering wheel cup, lightened power steering and a bleeper control system for secondary controls including indicators and horn. Izzy was able to confidently use these adaptations quickly and drove for five miles comfortably – the team were delighted with her ability and approach. However, the Driving Mobility team advised that further bespoke adaptions would be necessary for Izzy if she was to use a car fulltime. She was signposted to the vehicle adaptations specialists Des Gosling Mobility who had previously adapted Angela’s car. This established supplier assessed Izzy’s needs and agreed to provide a solution when she had selected a car.

Izzy decided to lease a new car through the Motability scheme however due to the Covid-19 outbreak she experienced a delay. However, in early July 2020, her new car was delivered to Des Gosling and the new controls were fitted. Izzy has now approved all the adaptations and has just begun driving lessons.

All the Derby Driving Mobility team expect Izzy to reach her goal of being able to drive without any issue. If it had not been for the coronavirus crisis, she might have achieved this before her 17th birthday as she was able to get her licence a year earlier because of her disability. Everyone at Driving Mobility wishes Izzy the best of luck.