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Kurt Hoffman - Back in the driver’s seat after a stroke

  • Kurt Hoffman’s life has been anything but routine since 2010, when he had a stroke. 

    “It affected my right side quite dramatically,” said Hoffman. He completed four weeks of inpatient rehabilitation followed by two years of outpatient rehabilitation. Fortunately, he was able to resume work within a year of his stroke. “It’s been a continuing process of building strength and flexibility,” he said. 

    Then came more changes – all of which have been decidedly more positive than having a stroke. First he retired. Then he got married. And then he and his new husband moved “up north” to Outing, Minnesota. 

    In anticipation of the move, Hoffman wanted to be better prepared for his new lifestyle. Because of continued weakness on his right side, he had been unable to drive since his stroke. “But I knew I would want to be more independent when we moved,” he explained. Hoffman hoped to find a part-time job after retirement, and he was also concerned because the nearest doctor is 25 miles away. 

    His physical therapist referred him to Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute’s Driver Assessment and Training service. Hoffman was assessed for vision, reaction time, memory and problem solving, upper and lower body strength and coordination, and cognitive processing skills. 

    Following this assessment, Hoffman progressed to behind-the-wheel training. Recommendations were made for adaptive equipment, including a modified gas pedal allowing him to use his left foot for acceleration. He also uses a knob on the steering wheel to make turning corners a bit easier. 

    Hoffman’s driving instructor was very thorough, helping him practice all the skills he would need to pass the Minnesota driver’s test. He even mastered parallel parking, something he had struggled with even before his stroke. “For the first time in 45 years, I understand the concept of parallel parking,” he explained. 

    Hoffman passed the behind-the-wheel driver’s test on his first try, despite it being a snowy, slippery day. 

    Now Hoffman has settled into his new home and his new life. Being able to drive means he can get to communities in his area as needed for his new part-time job as an elections judge, and it allows him to maintain his independence.  “This has made a huge difference in my life,” he said. 

  • Kurt Hoffman behind the wheel