Columbia, Tenn-based Maury Regional Medical Center recently introduced a driving simulator, designed to assist patients who suffered past head injuries, strokes, or joint replacements. Cindy Kington, OT, director of physical medicine at Maury Regional Hospital explains that the, “Simulator helps us re-train patients how to drive again by evaluating their performance in various driving environments.”

The simulator creates driving scenarios that can range from country roads to congested highways. Users control environmental factors, which includes weather, traffic conditions, and the time of day. Users also have the ability to select different vehicles, such as compact cars, sedans, SUVs, and large vans.

The simulator has an instant feedback mechanism that highlights areas of driving that need more attention, such as driving at night. The simulator also records any traffic violations the users commit.

Kington spotlights the diverse applications that the simulator offers. The device can assist stroke patients in re-learning driving skills using one arm, and allows neurological and orthopedic patients to test their reaction times on hazardous road conditions. Additionally, Kington points out that the program can be utilized as a screening tool to determine whether a patient requires adaptive technologies in their personal vehicles.

While the simulator’s use is designed primarily for physical therapy, it offers patients confidence-enhancing properties. Elizabeth Hall, OT, reiterates Kington’s point, “[Patients] might want to get back behind the wheel, but might be nervous. This can show them that they can do it.”

Source: Maury Regional Medical Center