Neuropsychological Deficits Associated with Driving Performance in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease

Some of the neuropsychological and motor deficits that are characteristic of Parkinson's disease may contribute to driving impairment. This article reports on the findings of a cohort study that compared patients with Parkinson's disease (PD, n = 21) to patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD, n = 20) and to healthy elderly controls (n = 21). All participants, still actively driving, completed a neuropsychological battery and a standardized road test administered by a professional driving instructor. On-road driving ability was rated on number of driving errors and a global rating of safe, marginal, or unsafe. The results showed that Alzheimer's patients were more impaired drivers than Parkinson's patients. Parkinson's patients distinguished themselves from other drivers by a head-turning deficiency. Drivers with neuropsychological impairment were more likely to be unsafe drivers in both disease groups compared to controls. Factors that affected driving performance in Parkinson's patients include disease severity, neuropsychological measures, and specific motor symptoms (axial rigidity, postural instability), but not to the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) motor score. The authors conclude that multifactorial measures were useful in distinguishing safe from unsafe drivers in both patient groups. Examining visuospatial and executive abilities with neuropsychological testing may play an important role in assessing driving safety for PD patients, as well as for AD patients.

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  • Authors:
    • Grace, Janet
    • Amick, Melissa M
    • D'Abreu, Anelyssa
    • Festa, Elena K
    • Heindel, William C
    • Ott, Brian R
  • Publication Date: 2005-10


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01042701
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 28 2007 7:48AM