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Things to Know About Driving with MS

October 8, 2015

For some people who live with multiple sclerosis, the act of driving a car can become increasingly challenging. Many patients believe that driving is important to their independence and will use a lot of energy in order to stay mobile.

"The effect of multiple sclerosis on driving varies from person to person, depending on their driving habits, the types of symptoms they have, and how severe those symptoms are,” said Nicholas LaRocca, PhD, vice president for health care delivery and policy research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in New York.

Some MS patients will make changes to their driving routine without actually acknowledging that their skills are deteriorating. Some signs may be:

  • Only driving alone
  • Only driving during the day
  • Only driving locally (No prolonged trips)
  • Finding alternative ways to perform specific thing (EX: Lifting leg with hand to go from pedal to pedal)

Many patients are afraid to talk to their doctor about it. They fear that if they do the doctor will shut it down right away. Ultimately, this isn’t true, as a doctor will always try to work with you to keep you on the road.

Be honest with you doctor. Let them know all of your symptoms, especially the ones that affect your driving. If you are up-front and honest, you have a better chance of staying safe on the road.

Get your eyes checked periodically. Any physician will tell you that it is never too soon for an eye exam. A huge part of driving is not just looking straight ahead but peripheral vision as well. Get your eyes comprehensively checked by a professional and examine the data very closely.

Research Adaptive Tools. Multiple Sclerosis should be constantly educating themselves. There are hundreds of adaptive devices out there that are making patient’s lives much easier. Driving is no exception, as there are devices out there to help those with a limited range of motion.

Get a driving evaluation. Your doctor may recommend this anyway. If not, search online for a specialist who can assess your ability. They will be able to assess you and pick out things that you don’t even know you are doing wrong. Don’t be afraid to fail, as you have to worry about the safety of yourself, your passengers and the other cars on the road first.