Local News

Driving simulator helps patients get back on the road

SPOKANE, Wash. -  While Ryan Wilson is just one patient at St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institution, his feelings towards his ability to drive is echoed by dozens.

"I want to get back to where I can drive, I can go on trips by myself. Pick up my son and it's not so much stress on my wife where she's got to do everything."

Two months ago, after numerous complications from a car accident two years ago, Wilson was declared a quadriplegic.

"It felt like I was in a nightmare," explained Wilson.  "The first week I kept telling myself to wake up."

Through the support of his family and the staff at St. Luke's, he's getting his life back.  The husband and father can already move his arms, hands, and feet - and thanks to the brand new $80,000 simulator, he's regaining his confidence behind the wheel

"There are no other driving simulators in the region in healthcare facilities," declared Dr. Doug Weeks.  "We're unique from that perspective, so we know it will be a game changer for patients who might have a return to driving as one of their goals."

While simulator time is just a fraction of Wilson's day to day treatment, his hours on the machine has him believing he's not far from testing his reclaimed skills on the road, with the proper precautions of course

"I'll be doing all my testing in my wife's car, so that way I don't wreck my pickup."