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Cognitive Tests Help Determine who can Drive Safely after a Stroke

The same way a brain fitness software program can help increase driving safety for older adults, simple cognitive tests may help determine whether a person can drive safely after a stroke.

A recent study analyzed 30 previous studies in which the participants’ driving skills after a stroke were tested in an on-road evaluation. 1,728 individuals with an average age of 61 were involved. On average, 9 months had passed between the stroke and the driving evaluation. Note that 54 percent of the participants passed the on-road evaluation.

The authors of the analysis looked for tests scores that could predict the actual driving evaluation outcome. They identified 3 simple cognitive tests that did quite well:

  • a Road Sign Recognition test (assessing traffic knowledge and visual comprehension)
  • a Compass task (assessing visual-perceptual and visual-spatial abilities and mental speed)
  • the Trail Making Test B (assessing visual-motor tracking and visual scanning abilities)

Participants’ scores in these tests correctly predicted whether the actual driving test would be failed for 80 to 85 percent of the unsafe drivers. A very interesting alternative to time-consuming and expensive on-road tests.

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2 Responses

  1. Fritz Mayr says:

    We carried out a similar study: Cognitive and Personality Determinants of Post-injury Driving Fitness (M. Sommer et al 2010)
    Published in Clinical Neuropsychology (Oxford Journals)
    Abstract
    Increasingly often, practitioners in neuropsychological rehabilitation centers are called upon to assess patients’ fitness to drive after brain
    injury. There is, therefore, a need for valid and reliable psychometric test batteries that enable unsafe drivers to be identified. This article
    investigates the contribution of five driving-related personality traits to the prediction of fitness to drive in patients suffering from traumatic
    brain injuries (TBI) or strokes over and above cognitive ability traits that have already shown to be related to safe driving. A total of 178
    patients suffering from either strokes or TBI participated in this study. All the participants completed a standardized psychometric test
    battery and subsequently took a standardized driving test. The contribution of the driving-related ability and personality traits to the prediction
    of fitness to drive was investigated by means of a logistic regression analysis and an artificial neural network. The results indicate that
    both cognitive ability and personality factors are important in predicting fitness to drive, although cognitive ability factors contribute slightly
    more to the prediction of patients’ actual fitness to drive than personality factors. Furthermore, even though there are subtle differences in the
    predictive models obtained for the two subsamples (stroke and TBI patients), these differences are adequately accounted for by a more unitary
    model calculated by means of an artificial neural network that is capable of taking account of moderating effects between the predictor
    variables.

  2. Pascale says:

    Thanks for sharing Fritz: Very interesting study!

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