Who can drive after a stroke? Tests can help decide

Feb 21, 2011

Many people want to keep driving after having a stroke, and many can do so safely. Simple tests in the office can help doctors determine who is more likely to be a safe driver after a stroke, according to research published in the February 22, 2011, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The research analyzed all of the available studies on driving after a . In all of the studies, participants' driving skills were tested in an on-road evaluation.

A total of 30 studies were analyzed. There were 1,728 participants with an average age of 61 in the studies. Of those, 938, or 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.

Three tests can be used to identify those people who are most at risk of failing the on-road .

"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."

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," Devos said.

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.

Explore further: Why your favourite song takes you down memory lane

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Memory failing? You may be at higher risk for stroke

Feb 01, 2010

People who experience memory loss or a decline in their thinking abilities may be at higher risk of stroke, regardless of whether they have been diagnosed with dementia, according to a new study published in the February ...

Memory problems may be sign of stroke risk

Feb 09, 2011

People who have memory problems or other declines in their mental abilities may be at higher risk for stroke, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 63rd Annual Meeting ...

Vision problems prompt older drivers to put down the keys

Jan 06, 2009

With 30 million drivers in the US aged 65 and over, we count on older Americans to recognize when they can no longer drive safely and decide that it's time to stay off the road. A new study finds that a decrease in vision ...

Recommended for you

Why your favourite song takes you down memory lane

11 hours ago

Music triggers different functions of the brain, which helps explain why listening to a song you like might be enjoyable but a favourite song may plunge you into nostalgia, scientists said on Thursday.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation of brain boosts memory

12 hours ago

Stimulating a particular region in the brain via non-invasive delivery of electrical current using magnetic pulses, called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, improves memory, reports a new Northwestern Medicine ...

User comments : 0