Understanding the experience of driving with a passenger with aphasia

Ryan S. Husak, Robert C. Marshall, Graham D. Rowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Drivers and passengers often spend a great deal of time conversing when riding in a personal automobile. Under most circumstances, drivers are easily able to maintain a conversation with their passengers while safely operating their vehicle. However, this task may be challenging when the passenger riding in the car has aphasia since many people with aphasia supplement their limited verbal output with other communication modalities, such as writing, gesturing, and using body language. Aims: The aim of this paper is to describe the experience of driving a personal automobile when a passenger with aphasia is riding in the car. Methods & Procedures: A phenomenological approach was used to gain an understanding of the lived experience of driving a car with a passenger with aphasia. Nine people who regularly serve as the primary drivers of a person with aphasia were interviewed twice using a semi-structured interview guide. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Outcomes & Results: Three main themes characterised the drivers’ experiences of riding with an aphasic passenger: (1) communicating, (2) helping, and (3) adapting. The theme of communicating was specified in terms of time constraints, topic avoidance, and communication strategies. The theme of helping was constructed from two subthemes: avoiding accidents and navigating. Drivers reported that passengers needed to adapt to the car environment due to stroke-induced cognitive and physical deficits. Conclusions: The findings describe various problems that people who drive an automobile with a passenger with aphasia experience and the ways in which they seek to overcome these problems. Clinicians should collaborate with drivers and passengers with aphasia to enhance the safety and quality of their in-vehicle experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1134-1150
Number of pages17
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • aphasia
  • communication
  • driving
  • passenger

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • LPN and LVN


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