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Head and Neck Cancer May Affect Driving Skills

Patients are impaired in some aspects, such as brake reaction time

FRIDAY, Oct. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with head and neck cancer are impaired in some aspects of driving, such as brake reaction time and steering variability, according to study findings published in the September issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.

Hon K. Yuen, Ph.D., from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and colleagues used a virtual-reality driving simulator to evaluate the driving performance of 10 patients with cancer in the head and neck region compared with 50 members of the community.

The researchers found that the cancer group had significantly longer brake reaction times and larger steering variability. Both groups were similar in terms of average speed, total number of collisions, and scores on the Simulator Driving Performance Scale.

"This pilot study provides preliminary evidence indicating inferior driving performance in a group of patients with cancer in the head and neck region when compared with a community control group. Further study is needed to investigate factors attributing to the difference," Yuen and colleagues conclude.

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