Mechanisms for Assessing Driving Ability Following Traumatic Brain Injury
Health care providers are faced with the challenge of assessing the ability of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) to resume daily tasks such as driving. Accurate assessment of driving ability is critical to the health and safety of the patient and those around him. The on-road driving assessment is helpful in determining driving competence, but this test can be expensive and difficult to access. A Florida study sought to determine whether cognitive testing could provide similar information to provide a more convenient method of assessing driving ability following TBI.
Participants in this study included ninety-nine people who had suffered TBI and had completed driving assessments in an Australian rehabilitation facility. Though overall those that failed the on-road driving assessment showed worse performance on cognitive tests than did those that passed it, statistical correlations were not strong. The cognitive tests that showed the greatest discrepancies were tests of general intellect and learning delay. The researchers saw no significant differences due to demographics such as age or sex, though they did observe that those that failed the driving assessment had fewer years of driving experience.
The researchers conclude that cognitive assessments are not effective metrics to determine driving ability following TBI, but that they may be used to pinpoint specific deficits that may impair driving. Instead, they suggest that injury-specific factors, such as time since TBI and injury severity, may better predict driving ability. In sum, a range of factors and clinical assessments should be used to determine driving ability following TBI.
McKay, Adam, et al. "Predictors of the On-Road Driving Assessment After Traumatic Brain Injury: Comparing Cognitive Tests, Injury Factors, and Demographics." The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (November 2016).