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Parkinson Disease Challenges Driving Ability

Individuals with mild to moderate Parkinson disease are more likely to make safety mistakes during a driving test than people without the disorder. The well-known motor problems caused by the disease–tremors and difficulty with movement–had less effect on driving ability than lesser known aspects of the disease such as effects on mental functioning, vision and sleep.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, involved an on-road driving test of 71 people with mild to moderate Parkinson disease who were current drivers and 147 people of similar age with no neurological disorders.

Parkinson Disease Challenges Driving Ability While driving, the participants were given a verbal addition task that simulates the amount of distraction similar to having a conversation with a passenger or using a cell phone while driving.

While distracted, 28 percent of those with Parkinson disease made more driving safety mistakes than they did when they were not distracted, compared to 16 percent of those who did not have Parkinson disease. Those with Parkinson who made more safety mistakes and had poorer ability to control their speed and steering due to effects of distraction also did worse on tests of memory, vision and balance and the ability to switch attention between competing tasks, and were more likely to have excessive daytime sleepiness.

“The abilities of the people with Parkinson disease varied greatly, which in some ways is not surprising because this disease affects people very differently,” said neurologist and principal investigator Ergun Uc, MD, of the University of Iowa and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City. “Clearly, Parkinson disease can affect the ability to drive, and that effect grows as the disease progresses. People with Parkinson disease should be aware of this potential decline in driving ability and their family and friends should also monitor it and then recheck periodically.”

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Parkinson Disease Challenges Driving Ability

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Parkinson Disease Challenges Driving Ability. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2006/11/28/parkinson-disease-challenges-driving-ability/436.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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