On the same road: Merger of Shands, UF driving rehab programs improves clinical care, expands research

Published: January 5th, 2012

Category: News

Shands and UF driving rehabilitation services are moving forward together, joining forces to establish what directors say is the first program where clinical driving rehabilitation services are delivered in direct association with current research.

Shands at Magnolia Parke Driving Rehabilitation Services and UF’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation, or I-MAP, announced their merger in October.

“Joining our clinical driving program here at Shands Rehab Center at Magnolia Parke together with the driving research program of the University of Florida makes us even stronger in the delivery of patient care,” said manager Patty Helsel, O.T.R./L., C.K.T.P. “Working together puts the evidenced-based research in our clinic so we are receiving cutting-edge information as it is obtained.”

The UF&Shands Driving Rehabilitation Services program will continue to offer occupational therapy and driver evaluation assessments for older adults and people who have conditions that may affect their ability to drive. They also will offer intervention plans and driver training to help individuals drive safer or use community transportation alternatives independently if they cannot or choose not to drive.

I-MAP scientists have been developing safe driving behaviors measures for older adults, as well as prediction models for driving performance in people with neurological disorders, such as mild traumatic brain injury, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. They are also examining the driving performance of returning combat veterans.

“Our goal is to work shoulder-to-shoulder with clinical driving rehabilitation specialists in order to ‘infuse’ evidence into practice,” said Sherrilene Classen, Ph.D., M.P.H., I-MAP director and an associate professor of occupational therapy in the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions.

The team has received a UF&Shands Quasi Endowment Fund grant to support research on the driving needs of adolescents with ADHD and autism spectrum disorder.

“Moving forward together under the UF&Shands driving rehabilitation services merger will position us to find answers for such and many other driving and community mobility-related questions,” Classen said.

By Jill Pease, first published in The Post