Georgiy Sekretaryuk
May 3, 2018
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Physical Therapy for Driving – How Physio Can Help

Physical Therapy for Driving

People who drive often, whether due to a long daily commute, or for professional reasons (truck or bus drivers, etc.) understand the physical pains that can come from sitting in the same unique position for hours on end. In BC, instances of chronic pain and discomfort from driving are about to ramp up. This is because the arrival of ride-hailing services such as Uber in Vancouver and BC is now inevitable.

At the onset of spring 2018, an all-party committee in the legislature unanimously supported a plan for such ride-hailing services throughout the province. Long story short, these rides will be pulling up to the curb near you very soon, and if you’re among the hundreds of local Greater Vancouverites who plan on becoming an Uberprenuer, you’re about to feel what it’s like to spend the bulk of your day in your vehicle. But don’t reach for those worker’s compensation papers quite yet, because physical therapy can help you navigate your way around the common ailments felt by frequent drivers.

5 Ways Physiotherapy Can Make Driving a Pain and Discomfort Free Experience

1. Treating Past Driving Related Ailments

If you have ever been in a motor vehicle accident (MVA) then you have likely received some form of physical therapy to assist in recovery. However, that ship may have sailed years ago, along with your claim, and you may continue to experience some form of chronic pain and/or discomfort, even if it is no longer debilitating. But just because years have passed since your claim fulfilled your allotted visits to a clinic, you should not discount revisiting the potential for treatment. By making physiotherapy a part of your regular health and wellness plan, you will effectively eradicate issues that persist. Just be sure to work with a clinic that is well known for ICBC treatments, as the therapists within will have vast experience in working with patients who have suffered all sorts of MVA related injuries.

2. Physical Assessment for Prevention

A physiotherapist can provide you with a comprehensive physical assessment that will help identify your current body function, addressing items such as movement, strength, sensation, balance, and even your ability to get in and out of the vehicle. In doing so, they can identify areas that require treatment and therapy, and may even assist in recommending modifications of how you should position yourself within a seat before driving. By receiving such an assessment, and taking the prescribed therapy to correct areas of concern, you will find that you will be much more comfortable behind the wheel.

3. Preventing the Potential for Dizziness, Vertigo, or Vertical Heterophoria / Vertical Orthophoria While Driving

Your vestibular system is comprised of the inner ear and the brain, both of which are crucial in controlling balance and eye movements. A vestibular system disturbance can cause symptoms of dizziness and vertigo which can result in visual disturbances and hearing changes. The symptoms can vary anywhere between mildly irritating to outright incapacitating. You can see where this would be a problem for driving. This is where vestibular rehabilitation physiotherapy, which may include head and eye movements, guided exercises, and balance training, will come in to help restore normal function.

What about vertical heterophoria (VH) and vertical orthophoria (VO)? VH and VO are binocular vision dysfunctions that result from a misalignment in your eyes that causes each eye to view images at slightly different levels, a major issue for safe driving. In addition to poor vision, symptoms can include head/neck/shoulder pain, sinus discomfort, sleep problems, and anxiety, all of which compound driving concerns. While a neurovisual specialist is the primary point of treatment, studies show that physiotherapy applied to the oropharynx, temporomandibular joint, and/or pelvis, can restore VO immediately, diminish pain, provide improved mobility of spinal and peripheral joints, and result in normalized behavior in balance tests. All of this is fancy talk for see a physiotherapist.

4. Improving Age-Related Impediments to Driving

Pain and discomfort felt in driving certainly increases with age and optimal body functioning begins to take a back seat without proper action. ICBC and RoadSafetyBC know this, which is why they have  devised an updated (March 2018) physiotherapy guided framework for senior driver assessments regarding a Class 5 license. The current framework now requires that applicable senior drivers submit a physician’s note (and/or a driver medical examination report) every two years to RoadSafetyBC to prove they are physically competent to drive. But there’s more. Applicable senior drivers must also undertake a more robust on-road test, with RoadSafetyBC determining the passing grade. If you fall within (or are approaching) this senior category, the time to take action is now. Learn more about how physiotherapy can give seniors a new lease on life, and on the road.

5. Better Footwork for Better Driving

Chronic heel or arch pain, plantar fasciitis, bunions, hammer toes, shin splints, knee pain, hip or back pain, metatarsalgia (pain or inflammation in the ball of the foot) can all make driving absolute hell. Did you know that receiving a Gait analysis and custom orthotics can make it all go away? A physiotherapist can assess your manner of walking/running, provide corrective therapy and advice, and will prescribe custom foot orthotics so that you will be pain and discomfort free in the lower extremities too. Learn more here.

There’s a bigger connection between physical therapy and optimal driving than you expected, right? Don’t wait another day to take action, contact our Burnaby, Coquitlam, and Greater Vancouver area clinic today to schedule a consultation.



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