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More disabled people getting driving licence

They learn to drive modified cars under hospital’s rehab scheme. 

news-drivinglicenceA GROWING number of persons with medical conditions are not letting their disability get in the way of driving a car.

Help is available from a scheme at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). The Driving Assessment and Rehabilitation Programme (Darp) benefited 435 people last year, up from 281 in 2008. Started in 2001 by a group of occupational therapists at the hospital, the scheme assists those with medical conditions to learn or return to driving.

“Through Darp, we hope to be able to give patients a better quality of life,” said Ms Florence Cheong, senior manager at TTSH’s occupational therapy department. TTSH is the only hospital to run such a programme, which is also open to non-TTSH patients via doctors’ referrals.

Participants have to clear two Darp assessments, an off-road one which tests the physical, cognitive and visual abilities pertaining to driving, and an on-road one where a certified driving instructor and a TTSH occupational therapist evaluate their ability to drive a modified car.

Those who clear both assessments will be allowed to drive. If necessary, they can relearn driving or take up lessons with an instructor.

Among them is Mr Hong Yong Ming, 46, who suffered a stroke two years ago. While he has recovered, he still feels numbness on the right side of his body. He signed up for Darp and learnt to use his left foot to accelerate and brake. “It felt odd during the first lesson, but by the third, I had the hang of it,” said Mr Hong, who got the go-ahead to drive again after six lessons. His job as a project manager in a construction firm requires him to be on the road and his car was fitted with a left-foot accelerator in March last year.

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