Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists - What Are They? - The Mobility Resource

Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists – What Are They?

April 18, 2024

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With the last of the baby boomers turning 60 within the next few years, America’s aging population is accelerating rapidly, with projections indicating a significant surge in the next decade. By 2030, it’s anticipated that around 53 million individuals will be in their seventies and still holding driver’s licenses. This trend underscores the growing demand for skilled Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (DRS) and programs aimed at assisting individuals with disabilities in maintaining safe and independent mobility. Fortunately, many major metropolitan areas offer such programs, equipping individuals with the necessary training and tools to drive safely despite disabilities or diminished strength in their limbs.

What is a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist?

A Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist, or CDRS for short, is a professional who plans, develops, coordinates, and implements driving services for individuals with disabilities.  These professionals are typically allied healthcare personnel, driving instructors, and others who are specialized in accessible driving services.

A DRS will evaluate a person’s driving and cognitive skills to determine if they can continue driving with further training, specialized equipment, or continued testing. They work with mobility van dealers to order the parts and equipment for installation on a specific accessible vehicle make and model. Patients may include those with spinal cord injuries (SCI), limb loss, dementia, paralysis from stroke, and other debilitating conditions. Cognitive testing determines a person’s concentration, attention, sensory, and motor abilities.

Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (CDRS) are the most knowledgeable of any DRS. There are approximately 750 individuals who have identified themselves as DRS in the U.S. and Canada and currently about 350 active CDRS.

CDRS all go through a program specific to the training, testing, and certification provided by The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists, or ADED, a nonprofit organization dedicated to safe and accessible mobility for all drivers.

mechanical hand controls

Driving with Hand Controls and Other Adaptive Equipment

Driving a car, truck, or wheelchair van with hand controls is not as simple as ordering a few pieces of equipment and installing them in your vehicle.

There are dozens of mechanical and electronic hand controls designed specifically to address a specific loss of function determined by off-road and on-road evaluation. For example, mechanical hand controls can be used for controlling the gas or brake pedals, for either the left or right side of the steering column.

A push/pull right angle hand control uses mostly upper-arm muscles and requires space between the knee and the steering wheel to operate. On the other hand, a twist-grip control uses mostly wrist muscles for acceleration. More sophisticated electronic driving controls can include reduced-effort steering, electronic braking systems, and hi-tech joystick driving.

A mobility dealer will typically require documentation from a DRS or CDRS that a person can safely drive with the equipment installed. While some people may view this as unnecessary, the safety of everyone on the road, including those being evaluated for driving, is the primary goal of driver rehabilitation programs.     

Finding a Driver Rehabilitation Program Near You

To locate a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist in your area, visit the ADED CDRS locator tool and select the country and state you reside in. You don’t need to enter a specific name or type of program to get a list of results for the entire state. If you have trouble finding a driver rehabilitation specialist, contact your nearest dealer from The Mobility Resource for assistance. Our network includes nearly 130 wheelchair accessible vehicle dealers located across the entire United States.

Interested In Becoming a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist?

For those interested in becoming a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist, the ADED offers several pathways for becoming a certified professional. Contact them at (866) 672-9466 or write to info@aded.net. Visit the ADED website at www.aded.net for more information.

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