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Parkinson's Affects Driving Ability

Study finds people with it do worse in simulated tests

MONDAY, Dec. 9, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- As their condition worsens, people with Parkinson's disease are more likely to have a traffic accident.

That finding comes from a University of South Florida study in tomorrow's issue of Neurology.

In the study, 39 people with Parkinson's and a control group of 25 people without neurological disease did driving simulator tests. They were all given 10 to 15 minutes to practice on the simulator before testing.

All the people with Parkinson's had more total collisions on the driving simulator than those in the control group. The collision rates for the people with Parkinson's corresponded directly to the severity of their disease progression, the study found.

Of the 39 people with Parkinson's, seven had stopped driving because of difficulties concentrating, 10 reported they had reduced their amount of driving, and 22 said their driving habits hadn't changed, even though most of them reported they had increased difficulty driving since being diagnosed with Parkinson's.

The study authors recommend larger, long-term driving simulator studies in order to develop rigorous driving safety guidelines for people with Parkinson's.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about Parkinson's disease.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Dec. 9, 2002
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