A driving simulator was used to explore whether varying levels of operational and tactical driving task demand would differentially affect healthy drivers versus drivers with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in their message recall. Study participants aged between 50 and 70 years included a group of drivers diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and a control group of drivers with no pathological conditions. Drivers of the control group were more likely to perform better than PD drivers in a sign recall task, but this trend was not statistically significant; also, disregarding group membership, subjects’ performance differed according to varying levels of task demand. Although the conclusions drawn from this study are tentative, the evidence presented here is encouraging with regard to the use of a driving simulator to identify performance differences related to medical conditions. With an understanding of its limitations, such driving simulation in combination with functional assessment batteries measuring physical, visual and cognitive abilities could comprise one component of a multi-tiered system to evaluate medical fitness-to-drive.
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