On-road driving impairments and associated cognitive deficits after stroke

Hannes Devos, Mark Tant, Abiodun E. Akinwuntan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Little is known about the critical on-road driving skills that get affected after a stroke. The purpose of this study was to investigate the key on-road driving impairments and their associated cognitive deficits after a stroke. A second aim was to investigate if lateralization of stroke impacts results of the cognitive and on-road driving tests. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 99 participants with a first-ever stroke who were actively driving prior to stroke underwent a cognitive battery and a standardized road test that evaluated 13 specific on-road driving skills. These onroad driving skills were mapped onto an existing, theoretical framework that categorized the on-road items into hierarchic clusters of operational, tactical, visuo-integrative, and mixed driving skills. The total score on the road test and the on-road decision, made by a certified fitness-to-drive expert, decided the main outcome. The critical on-road driving skills predicting the on-road decision were identified using logistic regression analysis. Linear regression analysis was employed to determine the cognitive impairments leading to poor total on-road scores. Analyses were repeated for rightand left-sided strokes.

Results: In all, 37 persons scored poorly on the road test. These participants performed worse in all hierarchic clusters of on-road driving. Performances on the operational cluster and the visuo-integrative cluster best predicted on-road decisions (R 2 = 0.60). 'Lane changing' and 'understanding, insight, and quality of traffic participation' were the critical skill deficits leading to poor performance on the road test (R2 = 0.65). Divided attention was the main determinant of on-road scores in the total group (R2 = 0.06). Participants with right-sided stroke performed worse on visual field, visual neglect, visual scanning, visuo-constructive skills, and divided attention compared with those with left-sided stroke. Divided attention was the main determinant of total on-road scores in the right-sided stroke group (R2 = 0.10). A combination of visual scanning, speed of processing, and executive dysfunction yielded the best model to predict on-road scores in left-sided strokes (R2 = 0.46).

Conclusions: Poor performance in the road test after stroke is determined by critical operational and visuo-integrative driving impairments. Specific and different driving evaluation and training programs are needed for right- and leftsided strokes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-232
Number of pages7
JournalCerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 27 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Activities of daily living
  • Neuropsychology
  • Neurorehabilitation
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Stroke
  • Stroke rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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