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Back behind the wheel: Paula Barlow

Back behind the wheel: Paula Barlow

I decided after five months that I wanted to drive again.

Brain injury survivor Paula Barlow shares her experience of returning to driving after brain injury.

“In April 2020 I had a sub-arachnoid brain haemorrhage. I had for many months suffered really bad headaches which had been misdiagnosed as migraines.

“I collapsed at home on a very ordinary Sunday afternoon and was lucky that my husband was home. I have no recollection of the events following but was taken to the local hospital and then transferred to Royal Preston Hospital for treatment. After having a few complications following surgery I spent time on the neuro-rehab ward before finally returning home.

“It was fabulous to be home, but it soon became apparent how much I would rely on my husband and family for care. I was completely exhausted, confused and very emotional, but also determined to get better.

“I realised very quickly that driving would be out of the question for a number of months and was advised by the rehab team that six months was normal. I contacted the DVLA who were excellent in helping me with the necessary form that was very straightforward and notified my insurance company.

“I decided after five months that I wanted to drive again. I spoke at length to my doctor and had an up-to-date sight test to ensure my vision was 100% and was pleased all was ok. I then called the DVLA again who couldn’t have been more helpful and advised that because my doctor had given me the green light, I could drive from that point and that written confirmation would be sorted in the background while my licence would be returned in due course.

“I went straight to my car and went for a very short drive. Yes, I was very nervous, but I felt so elated and free again. I made a promise to my family never to drive if I was having a particularly bad day with fatigue.

If I can offer one piece of advice to others, allow yourself time to heal. I have a wonderful family and the most beautiful grandson, everything I need to get better for. Healing is a long process, be patient.

Get support

You can find out more about the legal requirements and support that is available to get you back to driving in the Headway booklet Driving after brain injury, which you can download below.

Contact the Headway helpline on 0808 800 2244 or if you would like to discuss driving or other issues related to your brain injury. 


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