Getting ready to hit the road again

February 16, 2017

Suffering an injury that limits your mobility often requires you to undergo rehabilitation to return to fuller function. This can mean working on your range of motion and your strength. However, some injuries — like spinal cord injuries, brain injuries or strokes — require different elements of rehabilitation as well.

St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane recently added a virtual reality driving simulator to help patients get back on the road following injuries, and back to their independent daily activities. The simulator is the only one in the region and gives patients realistic scenarios to regain confidence without the stressful hazards of on-road driving.

With 80 driving scenarios available, the simulator tests patients for motor control, reaction time, divided attention, memory, planning, navigation, perception and passing. It also includes longer, more complete drives that can be used to assess driving ability before an evaluation in a car.

The Spokesman-Review recently profiled the simulator and how it has already helped patients at St. Luke’s. For Ryan Wilson, who suffered a spinal injury in a car accident, not being able to drive was a huge barrier. The 34-year-old from Athena, Oregon works on his family’s farm, where driving is part of the job. He used the simulator to continue easing his way back to returning to work.

“I’d go crazy if I wasn’t able to work,” he said.

Click here to learn more about the driving simulator at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute. (Tim Pfarr)


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