The development of a simulator-based intervention to rehabilitate driving skills in people with acquired brain injury

Bleydy Dimech-Betancourt, Pamela E. Ross, Jennie L. Ponsford, Judith L. Charlton, Renerus J. Stolwyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: With little to guide researchers and clinicians on how best to develop driving simulator interventions for ABI survivors, we aimed to describe the development process of a driving simulator intervention for ABI survivors in a rehabilitation setting. Method: Intervention mapping methodology was used as a framework for the development of our driving simulator intervention. A qualitative synthesis of theoretical and empirical literature and stakeholder meetings enabled identification of factors affecting return to driving, selection of justifiable intervention goals, and identification of appropriate theoretically-informed techniques to facilitate change. These were used as a basis for design of intervention components and materials. A plan for delivery, implementation and evaluation was then developed. Results: Determinants of driving ability, including knowledge and skills, self-efficacy, self-awareness of driving skills, awareness of risk and compensatory strategies were identified. These were applied to a range of tactical and operational driving behaviours to identify targets for change. Theoretically-informed strategies included direct instruction, repetition, graded difficulty, feedback and tailoring. An eight-session protocol, with a corresponding clinical manual, was developed for brain-injured patients who were referred for occupational therapy driving assessment. Protocols for recruitment, inclusion/exclusion criteria and facilitator training were developed, as well as a plan for evaluating feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness. Conclusions: Intervention mapping was a useful approach to systematically develop an intervention tailored to the rehabilitation hospital context to complement existing driver rehabilitation. The feasibility and effectiveness of the simulator programme developed in this study will be evaluated in future studies.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION We were able to gather important information and provide recommendations to tailor a new driving simulator intervention for individuals with acquired brain injury within a rehabilitation service. The processes and methods described provide researchers and clinicians with a systematic process for the selection of driving simulator intervention components and delivery. This investigation can be used to educate rehabilitation clinicians and technicians to improve driver training and delivery to acquired brain injury survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Oct 2019


  • brain injury
  • Driving simulator
  • intervention development
  • intervention mapping
  • rehabilitation

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