Driving and driving cessation after traumatic brain injury: processes and key times of need Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE: The ability to drive safely is commonly affected by traumatic brain injury (TBI). Driving is a role and activity that is highly valued and also associated with successful community reintegration after TBI. Relatively little is understood about the processes of interruption to driving and potential return to driving that can be experienced by people with TBI and their family members (FMs). Exploring the way in which driving interruption, return to driving and permanent cessation of driving happen for people with TBI, their FMs and health professionals (HPs) who work with them can enable a fuller understanding of the experiences and needs and enhance the rehabilitation approaches in this situation. METHOD: A descriptive phenomenological approach was used to explore the experience with the aim of improving services for people with TBI. Semi-structured interviews about driving and driving cessation were conducted with 15 people with TBI, 10 FMs and 10 HPs who had experience in driving and driving cessation issues. RESULTS: The findings reveal experiences of the process of driving and driving cessation contextualised within experiences of the accident and treatment process. Participants identified key times of need in relation to driving: being told about driving restrictions, understanding driving restrictions, the 'on hold' period, and returning to driving. CONCLUSIONS: The processes surrounding driving and driving cessation after TBI are complex. Informational, support and practical needs differ at the different times. There are key times where people may need further support to improve rehabilitation outcomes. Rehabilitation approaches may particularly need to provide clear, consistent information about driving restrictions, and the process required for returning to driving. While recovery time appears necessary for allowing a safe return to driving, active support for continued involvement in the community using alternative transport may reduce the frustration and disengagement experienced by people in the 'on hold' period.


  • Liddle, Jacki
  • Fleming, Jennifer
  • Mckenna, Kryss
  • Turpin, Merrill
  • Whitelaw, Penny
  • Allen, Shelley

publication date

  • January 2011