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Drivers Assessment Program

Questions About Inpatient Services
Jennifer Mertes, OTL 
(608) 263-8060
Questions About Outpatient Services
Peggy Nied, OTR
(608) 263-8412 
Related Contact Information 
Adaptive Experts
(608) 698-1050
Patient Forms
University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation has partnered with Adaptive Experts, LLC to provide a standardized assessment of the skills necessary to operate a motor vehicle.
This assessment includes two components:
  • A clinical assessment with a UW Hospital and Clinics occupational therapist
  • A behind-the-wheel assessment with a trained specialist from Adaptive Experts.
Who Should Get an Assessment
Drivers, or potential drivers, who have concerns about their driving abilities and would like a detailed, objective assessment.
Our clinicians are trained to work with individuals with a variety of disabilities or special needs.
Typical client characteristics include the following:
  • Individuals who have experienced a medical change or injury such as stroke, spinal cord injury, head injury, amputation, multiple sclerosis, diabetes or peripheral neuropathy
  • Individuals with a congenital disability such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or spina bifida that may require special accommodations to drive safely
  • Individuals experiencing the effects of aging including loss of mobility or cognitive decline and are concerned about how this might affect their driving skills
How to Schedule an Assessment
Patients who are interested in an assessment should contact their physician. A physician referral to occupational therapy for an Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, or IADL, Assessment is requested to receive the driver assessment. This service is available on either an inpatient or outpatient basis. Inpatient referrals at UW Hospital and Clinics can be entered as a consult to occupational therapy.
Outpatient referrals can be faxed to UW Hospital and Clinic's Rehabilitation Clinic at (608) 263-5011.
Orthopedics Components of the Driver Assessment Clinical Evaluation
A UW Hospital and Clinics occupational therapist will evaluate the individual's level of independence with an IADL through a variety of assessments. The evaluation will measure the person's strength, range of motion, coordination, vision, visual perception and cognition. During the clinical evaluation, many fundamental skills necessary for safe driving are tested. A written evaluation is completed by the clinician and shared with the referring provider.
Fees for the clinical evaluation are billed as an occupational therapy service and are reimbursed by most health insurance providers.
Behind the Wheel Evaluation
The second part of the assessment takes place in a vehicle. An occupational therapist from our partners at Adaptive Experts will assess the ability of the individual to safely operate a motor vehicle, as well as evaluate for adaptive equipment needs and additional behind-the-wheel training. A detailed written report with recommendations is provided and discussed with the client.
The behind-the-wheel assessment includes the following areas:
  • Vehicle entry/seating
  • Vehicle operation
  • Knowledge of traffic rules
  • Judgment/decision-making
  • Visual awareness, attention
  • Ability to safely negotiate typical
  • Traffic environments
  • Operation of secondary controls
  • Adaptive equipment, if needed
Fees for the behind-the-wheel portion of the assessment are billed separately and depend upon the type of vehicle required for the assessment. Please contact Adaptive Experts at (608) 698-1050 for specific costs and to determine possible funding sources for the behind-the-wheel assessment. This service is typically not reimbursed by health insurance providers.