CBI Health’s interdisciplinary team offers a wide range of services to help our clients get back to their everyday activities. This ‘Connected Care Story’ focuses on a client who suffered from driving anxiety following a work-related motor vehicle accident.
Landon* works as a long-haul truck driver. He drives transport trucks across Canada as his full-time job, and has done so accident-free for the past 20 years. Unfortunately, Landon was involved in a collision with another transport truck. Although he was not at fault, the incident caused him to develop anxiety about driving and he was unable to continue working.
Landon was referred to CBI Health by WSIB to help him cope with his anxiety and hopefully return to work as a transport truck driver. He participated in the Driver Assessment and Rehabilitation Program and received support from the team in his local area.
At the time of his referral, Landon was only able to drive his small car around town out of necessity, but even this caused him to feel anxious. During his initial assessment, he showed the typical signs of driving anxiety, such as driving below the speed limit, pulling over to let other cars pass, and impeding traffic. During his first few on-road treatment sessions, he used the driving instructor’s car that allowed the instructor to control the vehicle if necessary.
Landon’s occupational therapist worked with him on strategies to reduce his anticipatory anxiety that is exhibited by thinking the worst is going to happen. These strategies included focusing on the present and what he could see in the traffic environment. They challenged his anxious “what if” thoughts, and worked on viewing the road and tires of other cars to judge the distance and direction that they were going. This allowed him to think only about what he could see instead of fearing what could possibly happen.
As he continued with his sessions, Landon progressed to using his own small car, and then to his own pick-up truck that he had been avoiding since the accident. Soon after, he began highway driving to continue challenging his anxiety. Once he was comfortable with this, Landon’s occupational therapist reached out to his employer and they were able to provide him with a transport truck to continue his sessions. Landon began in-vehicle desensitization by sitting in the transport truck to combat the initial anxiety. They also worked with a trainer from his workplace and Landon slowly progressed to driving the cab of the transport truck. Gradually, he increased his comfortability with the cab and was eventually able to drive the full transport truck with the trailer attached.
As he neared the completion of the program, Landon had restored his confidence in driving and was eventually deemed able to return to work. It had been two years since he had driven a transport truck, and he never thought he would be able to do it again. From his first session where he felt anxious driving a small car, to being able to drive the full transport truck again, Landon is grateful that his occupational therapist and the team at CBI Health were able to help him get him back to his job and regular life. He is now able to continue working and driving without anxious feelings.
*Client’s name has been changed.