Having a stroke or TIAs (Transient ischemic attacks) may make it difficult or unsafe to drive, at least temporarily. People realised they were not able to drive because their vision had been affected or because weakness or numbness in the limbs affected their control of the car. Many also felt they had lost confidence. As these problems sometimes improve it was possible for some people to get back to driving.
The UK DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) do not allow you to drive for at least a month after a stroke. After the first month, if the doctor agrees that you are fit to drive, you can do so. If, after the month, the doctor or you feel that you are not fit enough to drive you have to tell the DVLA and your insurance company. However, if you are also affected by epilepsy after the stroke, you have to have been seizure free for 12 months before the DVLA will consider you for a driving licence.
Once the DVLA know about the stroke they will send you a questionnaire to fill in and ask for permission to contact your doctor for further information about your condition if necessary. The DVLA base their decision on the information you give them on the questionnaire and may ask your GP or consultant for a report on whether they think you are safe to drive. This happened to one man who felt he was lucky because he had bought a new automatic car just before the stroke; once he had his licence again he also had his car modified so that he was able to use the accelerator with his left foot.
He told the DVLA that he had had a stroke and given up driving but when he felt better he wrote…
If the doctor feels unable to make an assessment of whether you are fit to drive you can have an assessment by another, independent, GP or at a local accredited mobility centre. This test can include a visual test, a test of reactions and a driving test around the centre. These centres can give advice on mobility adaptations to the car although people usually have to pay for the assessment. Others felt that although their doctor felt that they could drive after the first month, they did not have the confidence to do so and one person went for the assessment anyway.
Many of those who had their licences returned described how it had increased their confidence or feelings of independence and freedom [Interview 06] whereas those who had not been able to drive again felt that they had less independence and freedom because of it. The loss of a driving licence was particularly hard for two people who lived in rural areas with less public transport.
He told the DVLA about his stroke and went for a test at a local assessment centre.
Getting his license and driving again was a big confidence boost after the stroke and he is now…
Feels that not being able to drive has affected her life enormously because she lives in an area…
People used different kinds of transport after their stroke. Some found themselves reliant on their husband or wife to drive whilst others relied on lifts from friends or family or on taxis. This could lead to a feeling of loss of independence. One person who had to give up driving had tried an electric bicycle and has now bought an electric mobility scooter, although he was yet to try it. Others got used to using buses and although the experience may have been hard at first they had a sense of achievement. If you are disabled by your stroke you may be eligible for a free pass to use public transport ask your local council for details. One man had been helped to use buses by rehabilitation staff and is now able to use them by himself.