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Julie's road to recovery

After neurosurgery to repair a brain malformation that was causing severe migraines, Julie had a road to travel before getting back behind the wheel.

Lady driving

This story first appeared in the 2018 Seniors Card Magazine.

Six months ago, Julie, 71, had neurosurgery to repair a brain malformation that was causing severe migraines. As she had difficulty walking and talking after the surgery she spent two months in hospital and a neuropsychologist advised her not to drive until cleared by her doctor. Julie funded her Uber trips with money saved by not owning a car. After several months of continuing improvements, she decided to attempt driver rehabilitation.

Julie’s doctor reviewed her medication and medical fitness to drive against the National Assessing Fitness to Drive criteria. Because of her neurosurgery and significant impairments, she needed to contact VicRoads for a Medical Review and to undertake an Occupational Therapy (OT) driver assessment to evaluate whether her health condition was affecting her driving abilities. Julie was initially angry about this and worried about failing the assessment, however she found the VicRoads ‘Road to Solo’ book helped her update her road law knowledge and boost her confidence.

Julie saw the OT driver assessor who explained the process for resuming driving. She successfully completed the OT off-road screening but was still anxious. The OT recommended a driving lesson with an experienced driving instructor prior to the practical on-road test.

Julie undertook the driving lesson with a professional instructor, who gave her valuable tips. With this encouragement she successfully completed the on-road test, stating she felt ’on top of the world’.

I’m back in charge of my lifestyle and not dependent on anyone… In hindsight, I’m really pleased I went through the process. People would have doubted my driving ability. I would have been worried too. It was a positive experience… good to have an expert tell you you’re safe to resume driving! These days Julie’s personal experience has inspired her to help others by acting as a volunteer driver.

Always talk to your doctor about impacts of health conditions or medications on fitness to drive.

For information about safe driving, health conditions and staying mobile visit VicRoads websiteExternal Link or phone: 13 11 71

Reviewed 19 July 2022