Simple tests can tell who can drive after a stroke

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WASHINGTON - Simple tests in the office can help doctors determine who is more likely to be a safe driver after a stroke, according to a new study.

Researchers in Belgium analysed all the data available on driving after a stroke that included 1,728 patients with an average age of 61.

In all of the 30 studies analysed, participants’ driving skills were tested in an on-road evaluation.

Of those, 938 (54 percent) passed the on-road evaluation. The average amount of time between the stroke occurring and the on-road evaluation was about nine months.

The researchers said three tests can be used to identify those people who are most at risk of failing the on-road driving test.

“These are simple tests that can be done in the doctor’s office, which is important because on-road tests are time-consuming and expensive,” said study author Hannes Devos, MSc, of Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.

“These tests are readily available and can be administered within 15 minutes,” he added.

The tests are a ‘road sign recognition test’ that assesses traffic knowledge and visual comprehension, a ‘compass task’ that examines visual-perceptual and visual-spatial abilities and mental speed, and the ‘trail making test B’, which measures visual-motor tracking and visual scanning abilities.

People who score below 8.5 out of 12 on the road sign test, below 25 out of 32 on the compass test and take more than 90 seconds to finish the trail making test are more likely to fail the on-road evaluation.

The tests correctly classified 80 to 85 percent of the unsafe drivers.

The results also showed that participants’ fitness to drive could not be predicted by their motor symptoms.

“This is not surprising considering the wide range of adaptive devices that are available, such as steering knobs that can be operated by one hand and left-foot accelerator pedals for people with limited use of the right leg,” said Devos.

In addition, the analysis found that three out of four studies showed no increased risk of accidents for people cleared to drive after a stroke.

The study has been published in the current issue of Neurology. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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