Longitudinal decline of driving safety in Parkinson disease

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Abstract

Objective:

To longitudinally assess and predict on-road driving safety in Parkinson disease (PD).

Methods:

Drivers with PD (n = 67) and healthy controls (n = 110) drove a standardized route in an instrumented vehicle and were invited to return 2 years later. A professional driving expert reviewed drive data and videos to score safety errors.

Results:

At baseline, drivers with PD performed worse on visual, cognitive, and motor tests, and committed more road safety errors compared to controls (median PD 38.0 vs controls 30.5; p < 0.001). A smaller proportion of drivers with PD returned for repeat testing (42.8% vs 62.7%; p < 0.01). At baseline, returnees with PD made fewer errors than nonreturnees with PD (median 34.5 vs 40.0; p < 0.05) and performed similar to control returnees (median 33). Baseline global cognitive performance of returnees with PD was better than that of nonreturnees with PD, but worse than for control returnees (p < 0.05). After 2 years, returnees with PD showed greater cognitive decline and larger increase in error counts than control returnees (median increase PD 13.5 vs controls 3.0; p < 0.001). Driving error count increase in the returnees with PD was predicted by greater error count and worse visual acuity at baseline, and by greater interval worsening of global cognition, Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale activities of daily living score, executive functions, visual processing speed, and attention.

Conclusions:

Despite drop out of the more impaired drivers within the PD cohort, returning drivers with PD, who drove like controls without PD at baseline, showed many more driving safety errors than controls after 2 years. Driving decline in PD was predicted by baseline driving performance and deterioration of cognitive, visual, and functional abnormalities on follow-up.

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