Driving Soon After Stroke May Be Risky

stroke1No one wants to lose their independence. However, for the safety of our loved ones who have suffered a stroke, and more importantly for the safety of others, driving may need to take a back seat until professionals can completely clear a stroke survivor to drive. Read on to learn more, and thanks for visiting Advocare of South Florida. 

After a stroke, driving skills may be impaired, two new studies suggest.

The small studies found that drivers who survived a recent stroke were more likely than other drivers to make serious driving errors. Stroke survivors were also more likely to get into collisions when in a simulated driving test environment.

“Patients with acute minor stroke made more errors during driving simulation in cognitively demanding aspects of driving, such as left-hand turns at a busy intersection,” said one of the study’s lead authors, Megan Hird. She is a graduate student at the University of Toronto and researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

Hird explained that few studies have looked at the driving performance of patients soon after a mild stroke. And while guidelines may suggest waiting a month to begin driving again, people may start driving sooner, according to Hird.

To see how a stroke might affect driving ability, Hird and her colleagues recruited 10 patients who had experienced a mild ischemic stroke (in which blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a blood clot) within the past seven days. The researchers had the stroke survivors drive in a simulated environment. They compared those results to the simulated driving tests of 10 healthy people who hadn’t had a stroke.

Overall, the stroke patients made twice as many driving errors as the comparison group. They were also about four times as likely as the healthy people to make mistakes when they were told to follow a bus, a task that requires significant attention, according to the researchers.

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