Dept. of Defense grant awarded to Dr. Sandra Winter and colleagues

Dr. Sandra Winter, a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, and her colleagues Drs. Sherrilene Classen, Charles Levy, Michael Marsiske and Babette Brumback, have been awarded a Department of Defense (DOD) grant. This grant is a four year, 1.9 million dollar, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program for the proposal “Effectiveness of a Driving Intervention on Safe Community Mobility for Returning Combat Veterans”. This project is based on a 2011 DOD pilot award as part of UF’s Florida Trauma Rehabilitation Center for Returning Military Personnel led by the Chair of the OT department, Dr. William Mann.

Over fifty thousand soldiers have been wounded in action in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom report difficulty with driving post-deployment. In addition, research has established an increased crash risk for this population and the need for evidence-based interventions. Given the importance of driving as a key facilitator of participation and community reintegration, this University of Florida – Veterans Affairs (VA) collaborative study combines the VA’s state of the art driving simulation equipment with rehabilitation provided by occupational therapists trained in driver rehabilitation with outreach to VA facilities throughout the North Florida / South Georgia Veterans Health System.

The focus of this work is to determine if the clinical Occupational Therapy Driving Intervention (OT-DI) is effective in reducing Veterans’ driving errors and improving their driving fitness. Development of effective interventions for driving fitness has potential to influence occupational therapy practice across military and VA health care settings supporting the health and well-being of our troops as they resume driving in civilian life.