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Ann Adv Automot Med. 2011;55:325-34.

Driving simulator performance in patients with possible and probable Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Kansas Medical Center.

Abstract

Drivers with more advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD) have been previously associated with an increased rate of motor vehicle accidents. Drivers suffering from early AD are also involved in, and may even cause motor vehicle accidents with greater frequency than "normal" drivers. Consequently there is considerable public concern regarding traffic safety issues for those with AD and subsequently for society, but there has been little research in understanding whether deterioration in driving ability is progressive, or has a sudden onset once the disease has reached a certain severity. The purpose of this study was to identify possible degradation in simulated driving performance that may occur at the earliest stages of AD, and compare these decrements to a control group of normal drivers.Using a single blind design, seventeen AD subjects, eight at a Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) of 0.5 (possible AD) and nine at a CDR of 1 (probable AD), were compared to 63 cognitively normal, elderly controls. All subjects were trained to drive a computerized interactive driving simulator and then tested on a 19.3 km (12 mile) test course.The AD subjects demonstrated impaired driving performance when compared to the controls. The simulated driving performance of the CDR 1 AD subjects was so degraded that it would be regarded as unsafe by standard assessment criteria. The CDR 0.5 subjects made similar errors, suggesting that driving impairment may occur at the earliest stages of the disease. Further work will be necessary to determine the significance of these findings.

PMID:
22105407
[PubMed - in process]
PMCID:
PMC3256816
Free PMC Article
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