The lived experience of drivers with a spinal cord injury: A qualitative inquiry

Lucia Mtetwa, Sherrilene Classen, Lana van Niekerk


Introduction: Driving is an instrumental activity of daily living and a facilitator of meaningful participation in society for the majority
of the population, including persons with spinal cord injuries. Persons with spinal cord injury may have impaired fitness to drive
capabilities. Little is known about perceptions of drivers with spinal cord injury on driving, driver rehabilitation, or return to driving.
This study examined the post spinal cord injury driving experiences of drivers and illuminates their rehabilitation and return-to-driving
needs within the South African context.
This phenomenological study explored personal experiences of fourteen drivers with spinal cord injury, recruited through
purposive sampling. Face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. The data analysis was an
inductive and iterative process.
Six themes represent the study findings: adjusting to physical limitations, safety perceptions and influencing factors,
the positive role of driving, contextual features and supports, environmental barriers, and inconsistent provision of rehabilitation services.
Conclusions: The findings indicated that occupational therapists ought to consider incorporating driver rehabilitation services and adopt
mediation approaches to advocate for persons with spinal cord injury, who want to drive. Plausible practice and research opportunities
are discussed for occupational therapists who are interested in driving and spinal cord injury.

Key words: Driving, spinal cord injury, individual perspective, driver rehabilitation.

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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