WATERTOWN, Conn. (WTNH) – Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle is challenging for many people born with a medical condition or experience a life-altering change, such as a head injury.
Fast moving highway traffic, trucks and all, didn’t put the brakes on Bill Higgins’ determination to get a driver’s license.
Higgins explains, “I can have independence by different means of equipment that can be added to a vehicle.”
Born with spina bifida – Higgins is comfortable and confident behind the wheel.
“Making sure it’s at the right level, ” he says, “Making sure the steering knob is in it’s correct position and that the hand controls are properly set so I can function the hand controls.”
Getting people like Bill live a more independent life fuels ‘The Next Street’ Driver Rehab Services.
CEO, Brandon Dufour says, “We would constantly get phone calls from people, can you help my mom, can you help my dad or my son or daughter has autism, or somebody just had an accident, can you help them with driving lessons?
He goes onto say, “When you go through our assessments and our evaluations, and you work with our team, you know. You leave here knowing, I can confidently do this and maybe, I have some restrictions or maybe I shouldn’t be driving on the highway but you do it with a sense that you’re okay.”
Occupational therapist Joan Sevigney Cramer heads up the team, “I look at each individual for their skill set as to what they might need to do to drive a car safely, vision, cognition, motor skills, their emotions.”
The only certified driver rehabilitation specialist in the state helps problem solve.
She says, “After the clinical assessment, if someone has the skills to drive or want to learn how to drive with adaptive devices and then yes, we would do a driving evaluation.”
Adaptive devices like this seat meets Bill’s different abilities.
“That’s really nice for Bill to be able to have the right eye line above the steering wheel,” points Sevigney Cramer.
“Which, says Higgins, “Is one of the things that Joan taught me about in my evaluation.”
“For some people we have to adapt like the seat belt. We have to make them longer, we might need to have it automatic,” says Sevigney Cramer.
All this, so those with cognitive/physical challenges can live independently.
Higgins says, “It confirmed I can do this, it confirmed that I can do anything I want in my life, whether it’s driving or going out, to playing pool.”
The program also helps navigate the State Department of Motor Vehicles requirements for the state’s own driver training and licensing program, which is part of the process of getting or keeping that driver’s license.
For more information about The Next Street Driver Rehab Services – visit: https://rehab.thenextstreet.com
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