Upstate Driving Specialists Playing It Safe

Written by Ashley Reis
Previously published in Scuttlebutt February 2010

You may not be aware of it, but employees at Roger C. Peace Hospital, part of Greenville Hospital System, are working to make Upstate roads safer. For Ted Ellett, the moment came for her to seek a driving evaluation at the age of 98. She had driven for 82 years without a single accident until her automobile had an unexpected mechanical failure during a routine shopping trip. On that day, Mrs. Ellett’s doctor felt the time had come for a professional assessment of her driving abilities and looked to the specialists at Roger C. Peace Hospital to provide it. For over 20 years, their Driver’s Rehabilitation Program has worked with individuals whose age, illness, or other life event may have caused limitations or disabilities that place them at greater risk behind the wheel. The program includes both the evaluation and training process for identifying and improving the skills for driving safely. Driving Rehabilitation Specialist, Leah Belle CDRS, conducted the evaluation for Mrs. Ellett, who was given the opportunity to demonstrate her driving strengths and identify her limitations, like numbness in her feet. With only one half of one percent of commuters in Greenville County using public transportation to get to work, driving remains a significant part of maintaining one’s gainful employment. For older adults, driving is key to maintaining their independence and social connectivity, as well. Therefore the ultimate goal of the Driving Rehabilitation Specialists is to help their clients keep driving longer and in a safer way. In fact, medical specialists at Greenville Hospital System have teamed up with researchers from Clemson University to learn more about driving as we age or after particular medical events. The collaboration provides an opportunity for a number of driving evaluation and screening technologies to be studied in a medical setting for the first time. In Mrs. Ellett’s case, Leah felt she could be trained to use adaptive equipment in her car, such as hand controls, to overcome some of her physical limitations and continue driving. Yet Mrs. Ellett came to her own conclusion. “At 98, the time has come to stop driving,” she decided. For more information on the Driver’s Rehabilitation Program at Roger C. Peace Hospital, call 864-455-4959. For information on driver rehabilitation services beyond the Upstate, contact the Veterans Association Hospital in Columbia or Atlantic Physical Therapy in Myrtle Beach. Resources in other states can be found at www.aded.net.

Volunteers Wanted for Driving Research Study Greenville Hospital System is conducting research on the computer-based DrivingHealth® Inventory in a clinical setting. Are you over the age of 50 with driving experience? Are you interested in receiving feedback about your abilities related to safe driving? This study will take a maximum of two and a half hours to complete.

Call Ashley at (864) 455-6262 or e-mail areis@ghs.org to see if you qualify.

This research is conducted at Roger C. Peace Hospital under the direction of Principal Investigator:
Kevin Kopera, MD
Roger C. Peace Hospital
701 Grove Road, Greenville, SC

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