Hannah Williams at a driving session.

Hannah’s Story: Gaining Her Independence by Learning How to Drive

Dec 10 2021

Hannah Williams, born with spina bifida, was initially unable to pursue driving as her method of transportation. Then, a few months ago, Hannah learned about our “On the Road Again” driver rehabilitation program. This program, started in 2018, is designed to evaluate and rehabilitate drivers. Its goal is to give individuals a chance to gain a new aspect of independence through driving.

Since Hannah is not yet a licensed driver, she was unable to acquire a temporary driving permit. Luckily, “On the Road Again” provides Hannah the opportunity she needs to learn the skills to drive with hand controls.

Following her initial evaluation, Hannah began her participation in the program. The simulator tool provides Hannah with an opportunity to learn how to drive using simulated drives, all from her custom wheelchair. This tool was designed to assess and train driver performance skills that are required to operate a motor vehicle on road.

Lynne Chapman, one of our occupational therapists, is certified as a driver rehabilitation specialist. During her sessions with Hannah, Lynne modifies her wheelchair to ensure a safe visual clearance from the steering wheel.

“Lynne helps me maintain a state of calmness behind the wheel,” Hannah shares. “She also teaches me techniques to improve my performance. Driver rehabilitation is actually so much fun! It provides a refreshing reprieve from my day-to-day life. Plus, I get to do something all my friends can do. I’m getting on track with achieving my goals.”

At birth, doctors weren’t sure Hannah would make it past her first birthday, let alone elementary school or college. Now, she is enrolled in college and is also employed. Hannah is excited to continue improving her driving performance and is getting closer to reaching her goal of being able to drive on her own.

“Mybest advice for someone who hasn’t explored the program is to not give up and to keep trying to explore resources that might allow you to gain more independence,” she says.

Hannah adds, “I’m grateful to everyone who’s helped me get to where I am today. I’m so grateful to Lynne and to the Mercy Health rehabilitation program for giving me the opportunity to flourish and be as independent as I can be given my medical condition.”

Learn more about the occupational therapy services we offer at Mercy Health.

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