Reapplying for driving licence after a stroke

You may be aware that if you've lost your driving licence solely due to an eyesight defect after a stroke, that you can exceptionally apply for a driving assessment after 12 months, subject to a number of criteria. Not driving for 12 months and then an assessment on roads that you may not know is daunting. If that applies to you, see if there is a race track near you that does advance road driving assessments for 17 year olds (no licence needed), with the paddock and track set up with roundabouts etc. I was surprised and delighted that a nearby race track is happy to accommodate me with one to one instruction and assessment.

33 Replies

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  • Exercise.

    I am 58 and had a hemorrhagic stroke some six months ago. I've had setbacks along the way, not least of which was almost 3 months with no hospital cover until I had a decompensated episode 3 weeks ago. First Doctor or Nurse I'd seen on the specialist stroke team since nearly 2 weeks before that. No point in pointing, because that doesn't get me anywhere. Thankfully, I'm getting sorted now.

    Anyway, the reason I'm responding to this one is my driving, I used to be a first class driver and this has knocked everything to bits, I'm gutted. I could see that I wasn't strong enough a while ago, but now, now I've got my car working and I AM stronger, I'm still not strong enough. More exercise is the only way. More, more, more exercise. My right arm and leg aren't as strong as I'd like, not nearly. More exercise.

    Exercise.

  • Do you have a disability driving centre near you drivingmobility.org.uk

    I recall that their assessment costs about £40 if you are referred or £80 if you are not referred.

  • There's one in Derby and a p/t one in Newark, so not too far. Still, further than I've been in 6 months.

    I think any problem lies with the physical side of things (I know that's what they're there for) as both the Physio and the Specialist have given me the go-ahead mentally, so the physical's where to start. I want to rule out any possibility of a "normal" resolution to this state of affairs first before deciding on a different course of action.

    My GP is a strange kettle of fish, I haven't seen the surgery in at least 2 years, maybe 3 (until next week) so I have no idea what they think.

    It's one big adventure!

  • Arm strength and mobility don't need a gym. You can exrercise with a can of baked beans and try a variety of exercise bands.

  • Yup, got that. Only the can of beans is a bottle of tomato ketchup haha

    Got an exercise band too. Wondering how to use it though, not exactly user friendly are they? ;) At least some of them have hand or foot holds...

  • Depending on the strength of the resistance band put one end under your foot, or put your foot in the middle of the band. Hold the end(s) of the band in your hand(s) then keep your elbow(s) to your side(s) and raise your fist(s) towards your shoulder(s) to strengthen your upper arms. There are many exercises on YouTube. This one is aimed at women but so what:

    Most of the exercise classes that I go to or have been to - Pilates, yoga, Fit Ball, Body Balance, Spin, Abbs, Circuits - are 90% to 100% female but in no way are they easy; guys you're missing out!

    Bands come in different resistances and if your grip is a problem either get some bands with hand holds, or tie a loop big enough for your hand, or thread the end through a short piece of plastic pipe - say an inch in diameter - so that you can grip it. However boring it might seem, the end result can be worth it. Just give yourself small targets along the way.

  • I couldn't agree more.

    sorry for the short answer, but going to see my GP for the first time in years this morning, will give long one later.

  • For driving, I need more suppleness in my right ankle coupled with some more strength generally. More awareness of where my toes are autonomously... Not a big ask.

    My arm/hand is quite good and continues to improve (as does my foot) so I reckon at max a month and I'll be back on the road.

    BRING IT ON! :)

  • Do you have to declare your stroke to dvla and how long can you not drive for?

  • Hi Susie;

    you can't drive for a month after a TIA or full stroke. Then it depends what parts of your body are still affected. Guidance is at gov.uk/stroke-and-driving

  • Thanks john I wasn't sure about that

  • Depending how strong your ankle is, you can use a resistance band or do heel raises. To start with sit in a chair and put your leg out straight with your heel on the floor without your toes touching the ground; without taking your heel off of the floor, rotate your foot as though you were drawing a circle with your big toe. A few circles one way and then a few circles the other way. Then with your foot still and with the heel on the floor, raise all of your toes and then scrunch them downwards; this will work you calf muscle. With the foot still, heel on the ground and toes off the floor put the resistance band under the ball of your foot, hold both endes of the band and pivot your foot downwards as though you are pressing on a pedal; imagine that you are braking in your car. When you're are strong enough, stand next to something solid and fixed like the kitchen sink, hold onto it with both hands to steady yourself, and see if can raise your heels a little way off the floor as though you were going to stand on tip toes (no ballerina stuff mind!).

    I wish you luck with returning to driving. I have to wait until the summer, have my partial blindness assessed, clinicians reports, then if that's OK apply to the DVLA for a one day licence for a driving assessment. It's a pain in the whotsit, but I need my independence back instead of my wife driving everywhere and me trailing arond behind her.

  • I know what you mean, being dependant on someone else sucks big time - and not just for the dependant one. The driver feels it too. There are times when I haven't been out (I'm sure) because I don't want to inconvenience someone else. I'm sure you've done the same.

    Your advice is very good you know? I have a tendency to dismiss advice with a light-hearted comment, to laugh it off and yet you come back. It's seriously appreciated man, John, thank you.

  • What is quiet ly driving memad is the tedium of taxi chat as I have to use taxis to get into work et

  • The only thing I can suggest (well 2 really) is either pretend to be very busy (3) by (4) having headphones in and pointing at the screen a lot, like talking to strangers more, be very ignorant and ignore them totally or get your driving licence back. There are probably other suggestions but not right now.

    I'd go for Like talking to strangers more personally.

  • i am having driving lessons but I can see it is not going to be easy so I don't want to put any more pressure on myself right now -especially as I am having to deal with all sorts of other crap just now. I like talking to strangers- about things that matter, not trivia. Recently a taxi driver wanted me to give him directions to the town hall in a city where he has been living for 16 years! Bit gobsmacked with that one!

  • No pressure is a good thing :) Whatever the point of origin.

  • I'm the same with a reflex response, even down to politely declining a cup of tea. We stroke survivors are all in this boat together even though we didn't choose or expect the journey. The poor old NHS - they have kept me in this world on more than one occasion - don't have the resources so we need to chat and support one another. My knees look like they are from two different people and the exercises that I mention are from physios, a personal trainers, yoga and Pilates teachers that I've had the good fortune to work on my body. We are going to show this accursed stroke that it takes more than this to beat us!

  • You won't have cup of tea then? ;)

  • I have put so much weight on since I came out of hospital 1 stone and a half in 2 weeks!!! Need to do something gs fed up sitting getting handed food all day

  • Hi Susie. A pound of fat takes around 4,000 calories so it sounds more like fluid storing. I recall being on Prednisolone and I put on 13kg in 12 months. I would eat anything, including getting up at 4 a.m. to eat Natural bars and peanut butter sandwiches washed down with a pint of milk!

  • Why? Just say no to being fed. I went in at 17 stone and now I'm less than 15. Eat minimally. I think my weight was a contributory factor in my stroke. Ideally I'd be about 13.5 stone, 32" waist. Doable? Possibly.

    Is yours doable? Again, possibly.

  • When I went into hospital due to pulmonary toxicity secondary to Dronedarone, I was 11 stone at 7.5% bodyfat with a waist less than 32" from lots of gym exercise; and the hospital described me as under-nourished. Prednisolone not only makes you want to eat, it also changes fat distribution and increases your internal fat reserves. Prednisolone really turned up my tastes buds so after being close to death - I also had relapses for more than a year - it was great to be alive and take pleasure from eating. I no longer take my stats as I used to do in my gym days, but I'm around 11.5 stone with a waist size less than 34" and total cholesterol of 3.8. I was less than that when I had a stroke last July.

  • The thing that nearly killed me was humble aspirin, a drug that's supposed to be good for us.

  • Since you ask, a nice cup of virtual green tea would go down a treat.

    I mentioned reflex reactions. I was in hospital a little while after the stroke and a doctor thought he would test my reflexes. No fancy hammer to hand, he bashed my knees with the end of his stethoscope; not a flicker of movement - dead or an alien lifeform? Apparently I now have depressed reflexes: that would have been a gift to Eric Morecombe.

    I'm a rag bag of medical odds and ends, so my GP invites me to be the mystery patient for first or second year medical students to quiz and examine. I'm not sure who is more concerned about the responses, me or them.

  • Virtual green tea coming up!

    I bought 2 packs of Liquorice Allsorts (Tesco flavour) when I came out of hospital and for some reason I didn't eat them. Same with the Pistachio nuts, the butter Mintoes, the salted peanuts etc. Nobody (at the time) told me it'd be a bad idea to eat them, I just didn't. That's not to say I didn't overeat in other ways (and kept the weight on) I did. But when I found what it was doing, I stopped.

    I was a smoker & a drinker when I went in. Stopped like that. Haven't touched either since.

    Maybe it's about where the stroke occurred, maybe. A Thalamic Bleed. Maybe it's just that.

  • Great stuff, the different you is heading in the right direction. A stroke can certainly be life changing.

  • Change my life it did! As did yours yours... does that make sense?

  • How's your driving going? Well I hope.

    I'm not doing it yet, no car. It's going in on the 12th (I'm taking it in) so it's then that I'll find out one way or t'other.

  • Hi Tony;

    today I did the advanced driving course (for 14 to 16 year olds!) at Castle Combe circuit in Wiltshire as it's not on a public road. I had to learn to drive for current examiner's requirements and not as I've done for the last 50 years. Thanks to Julie Murphy's driving school for giving me the opportunity knowing that I'm blind on the right-hand side after the stroke. I haven't driven for 11 months but it felt perfectly normal and, I didn't "give it the beans" despite being on a race circuit.

    I've written to the DVLA Medical Group asking them to confirm if the visual field requirement at the 12 month anniversary of partially losing my sight is not the 120 degrees of the initial test. Secondly, whether the second visual field test has to be done by Specsavers who are the DVLA test agents. I'll report back here with the outcome, as the DVLA responses are ambiguous in my view and that of my Opthalmist. Depending on the DVLA response, the next step will be a visual field test to see if has worsened. Then I apply to the DVLA Medical Group for a one day licence to take an assessment on public roads at the local Disability Driving Centre. The examiner will report to DVLA on whether I should be considered for the restoration (or not) of my driving licence. My Opthalmist hasn't heard of anyone with hemianopia getting their licence back, but I have to have a go at being the first. Then if I'm successful, I'll have to prise my BMW 120D out of my wife's hands!

    Good luck for the 12th.

  • Good luck to you too, I'm not very good at the writing thing, I can't concentrate for very long at a time.

    The DVLA are ambiguous anyway, their way of being is flawed. But I'm too tired to go into it now, I'll get round to it.

    :)

    It revolves round "Are You Your Own Boss" and if not, who is?

    LOL at you doing a 14/16 year old (advanced) driving test. How did you get on?

  • The DVLA Medical Group have confirmed that I can be considered (as an exceptional case) provided my eyesight has not deteriorated further since the test after the stroke and, I meet all of the other criteria in the Guidance document. There was no mention of having to go to Specsavers who did the test that was submitted to the DVLA medical Group. Therefore the retest does not require me to meet the 120 degree visual field.

    The 14 to 16 year old test: I had to slow right down and forget normal driving / rally days / karting / Honda Pilots / Group N rally cars / not to mention dumper trucks and caterpillar track diggers! I'm used to using more revs in a lower gear into a corner and then powering out of the apex; none of that and a maximum of 40 mph. My visual processing wasn't an issue, nor negotiating a tight right hand chicane. Then there's checking two blind spots and three mirrors on an almost empty race circuit before pulling away and, checking the nearside for cyclists behind me when I pull in from 40 mph: no it wasn't Brad Wiggins behind me on a bike. Reverse parking between little cones. It was great to drive again even in a little gutless Peugeot diesel. Just give me the "key to the highway".

  • Well done!

    I went driving too. Took my car to be washed (it hasn't stopped raining since) then posted my vote. I'll be back on the road properly in just over a week's time. It feels right.

    You'll be back normal driving just as soon as you want.

    And sooner than you think.

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