Stroke Archives - Driving Mobility

Chiara’s ‘one handed hacks’ aim to help other drivers who have experienced a stroke

Recently featured on the BBC, Driving Mobility client Chiara Beer, 27 from Winchester, is publishing ‘one handed hacks’ to help people drive after experiencing a stroke.

Recently featured on the BBC, Driving Mobility client Chiara Beer, 27 from Winchester, is publishing ‘one handed hacks’ to help people drive after experiencing a stroke.


Chiara is a busy and positive individual who works for her father’s cereal bar business ‘Boka Food’. Her job involves a variety of roles including packaging and managing the company’s social media. Being able to drive to work and for social time is essential for Chiara. Without this she would not be independent and would have to rely on mum and dad for lifts all the time. As a keen swimmer, Chiara spends a lot of time at the local sports centre so freedom to go whenever she wants is important for her mental health and well-being.


Chiara experienced a stroke aged two which developed into dystonia and hemiplegia, affecting the mobility and strength of her right side. Therefore to drive, Chiara needs vehicle adaptations so she can steer and control with her left hand and left foot. When she decided to start learning to drive at 17, Driving Mobility were instrumental in signposting her in the right direction in terms of specialist tuition and vehicle adaptations. Without the clinical assistance of the West of England Driving Mobility centre, Chiara would not have been able to pass her test and go on to driving independently.


Chiara picks up the story: “I spoke to my GP about the possibility of driving so he wrote to the DVLA. They said I needed to go to a Driving Mobility centre for a driving assessment. The nearest one to us was the one in Bristol so I went along. The staff there were amazing, so friendly. An Occupational Therapist and Approved Driving Instructor took me through some basic health and mobility checks and then I got to try various driving controls around the car park. They recommended a steering ball with secondary controls and a left foot accelerator. Now I knew what I needed, I just had to pass my test. They signposted me to an instructor who specialised in lessons for drivers with disabilities. It took me 2 years and three attempts to pass, but I got there in the end which is the main thing!”


Chiara drives with a Lodgesons steering ball which encompasses buttons that control secondary functions such as lights and indicators. This detachable ‘lollipop’ uses wireless Bluetooth technology and can be easily removed if standard steering control is preferred. Her ‘twin flip’ accelerator pedal again can be quickly adjusted for either left or right foot control. This means the rest of her family can use her automatic car without any adaptations.


Today, driving is second nature for Chiara – she is confident and at ease behind the wheel. She freely admits driving on her own was quite daunting in the beginning, but her concerns faded over time.


As she volunteers for ‘Different Strokes’, a charity that supports younger people affected by stroke, her story was sent to the BBC by their press team. Newsbeat took interest in Chiara’s ‘one handed hacks’ video series which featured advice on putting up hair, applying make-up, cutting food and wearing jewellery. She followed this with YouTube videos showing how she drives using one arm. Chiara plans to continue publishing advice reels for people with restricted mobility or limbloss, and hopes to support Driving Mobility in some way in the future.


In conclusion Chiara says: “To all fellow people with disabilities learning to drive, don’t give up, your perseverance will pay off! Some days I thought I would never do it, but I did. The support and reassurance I received from my instructor and Driving Mobility definitely helped.”



Stroke survivor Nigel perseveres with Driving Mobility support to drive once more

Nigel King, 74 from Enfield, is back behind the wheel following a stroke thanks to specialist support and driving tuition from a Driving Mobility assessment centre based in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.

Nigel King, 74 from Enfield, is back behind the wheel following a stroke thanks to specialist support and driving tuition from a Driving Mobility assessment centre based in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.

Nigel is a retired residential and commercial estate agent who has always led an active lifestyle with extensive driving. His career involved selling substantial properties which involved the use of a car on a regular basis. Since passing his test at 17, Nigel drove for over 50 years until he experienced a stroke in 2018. This left him with reduced mobility in his left hand and arm which meant driving a standard car was impossible.

Nigel was concerned that he might not be able to drive again however his consultant and Occupational Therapists explained there were possible solutions that gave him hope. The DVLA was informed of Nigel’s situation so his driving licence was put on hold until a professional assessment confirmed he could drive safely in an adapted vehicle. This led to help from Driving Mobility.

As Nigel’s rehabilitation began, the stroke department at his local hospital advised him to seek a specialist driving assessment. This would provide a professional evaluation of his capabilities and recommend suitable adaptions to allow safe driving with one hand. Nigel researched online and discovered the charity Driving Mobility which accredited a centre close to his home (Herts Ability).

The national charity Driving Mobility oversees 20 centres, which consist of independent charities and NHS departments, with over 70 outreach facilities across the UK. Driving Mobility is regarded as the ‘national voice of assisted driving and independence’ and continues to support the development of new services focused on all aspects of accessible travel. The Welwyn Garden City centre is proud to be part of this network with its CEO, Sean Lawrence, being an active Trustee on the Driving Mobility board. Nigel contacted the Hertfordshire centre and a driving assessment was booked.

Nigel explains: “Driving Mobility were so supportive of me throughout the whole process and really patient. After an initial consultation on the phone I made an appointment to visit their centre. After a reassuring welcome I underwent a cognitive test and was then accompanied in a dual-control car by an instructor and therapist. A steering knob or ‘lollipop’ had already been fitted to the vehicle to see if I could operate it safely and confidently. At first I did not find it easy, even though I am right-handed my 50-years of holding a steering wheel in a standard way made it difficult. Driving Mobility was very patient with me and following the initial assessment they recommended driving lessons so I could get used to this new way of driving. As part of their service they put me in touch with one of their assessors, who was able to provide tuition.”

Nigel completed some 20 hours of tuition and another assessment over a 12-month period – achieving a positive outcome in November 2019. This meant his driving licence was returned and he was approved to drive independently once more. Nigel’s automatic Ford Fiesta has been fitted with a wireless ‘lollipop’ which clips onto the steering wheel to provide leverage and push-button control of indicators, lights, wipers and horn. It can be easily removed for his wife to drive their car with standard controls. They can now drive together or independently again.

Nigel concludes: “It took me a year to achieve approval to drive again, however, my persistence paid off. I’ll be honest I didn’t find it easy and I really had to work at it, but I got there.  Dependent on your abilities, I’d say it is wise not to expect success overnight.  After a life-changing experience, it can take time to learn a new way of driving. So, my final piece of advice is not to be deterred. Be patient and take your time, concentrate and practise and you’ll get there. Being able to drive again has enabled me to regain my independence thanks to Driving Mobility.”