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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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