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ORIGINAL ARTICLE   Free accessfree

European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2018 October;54(5):717-23

DOI: 10.23736/S1973-9087.17.04905-X


lingua: Inglese

Safe return to driving following severe acquired brain injury: role of a short neuropsychological assessment

Donatella SAVIOLA 1, Antonio DE TANTI 1 , Jessica CONFORTI 1, Lucio POSTERARO 2, Alessia MANFREDINI 2, Chiara BAGATTINI 3, Benedetta BASAGNI 1

1 Cardinal Ferrari Rehabilitation Center, S. Stefano Riabilitazione, Fontanellato, Parma, Italy; 2 Unit of Specialistic Rehabilitation, Suzzara SpA Hospital, Mantua, Italy; 3 Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, IRCCS Centro San Giovanni di Dio, Fatebenefratelli, Brescia, Italy

BACKGROUND: Driving is a complex ability requiring a broad range of motor, cognitive-behavioral and visual skills that may be impaired after severe acquired brain injury (sABI). Resumption of driving is perceived as a major need by patients, being closely linked to personal autonomy, work and social activities.
AIM: The objective of this study was to identify a short battery of neuropsychological tests with predictive value with regard to safe return to driving after sABI.
DESIGN: Observational study.
SETTING: Outpatient of a rehabilitation center for sABI.
POPULATION: A continuous series of 127 patients with stable sABI, well-reintegrated at a family and social level, dismissed since at least one year from the end of their intensive rehabilitation, enrolled between 2006 and 2014.
METHODS: Patients underwent an extensive battery of neuropsychological tests (pencil and paper and specific PC programs), aimed at assessing cognitive functions, in performance and verbal tasks. The results were analyzed in relation to their on-road performance during the driving test conducted by the office of the Italian Government Authority (success or failure of the test).
RESULTS: No correlations were found between demographic data, etiology, driving experience, verbal competence and the decision of the competent authority. Significant correlation was found between attention, executive functions, overall visual-spatial exploration and driving performance.
CONCLUSIONS: Both “pencil and paper” and computerized tests in the cognitive domains of attentive functions, and those involving performance with visual-spatial material, are significantly correlated with the driving test outcome, even if there is not enough evidence of the relative value of off-road compared to direct on-road tests.
CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: We propose a small neuropsychological battery of tests with normative data for Italian population, predictive with respect to the ability to drive safely. We recommend to use it as first screening before submitting patients to more demanding and risky on-road driving tests.

KEY WORDS: Automobile driving - Brain injuries - Neuropsychological tests

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