(HealthDay News) — In two small studies, drivers who survived a recent stroke were more likely than other drivers to make serious driving errors, and stroke survivors were also more likely to get into collisions when in a simulated driving test environment. The researchers were scheduled to present their findings Wednesday at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, held from February 11–13 in Nashville, TN.
Megan Hird, a graduate student at the University of Toronto and researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and colleagues recruited 10 patients who had experienced a mild ischemic stroke 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.
Hird’s colleague, Kristin Vesely, also a graduate student at the university and hospital, led a second study comparing the driving abilities of nine patients who had had a subarachnoid hemorrhage with nine people who had not had a stroke. The people who had hemorrhagic strokes, which typically take longer to recover from, completed the driving simulation test three months after their strokes. The researchers found that the stroke survivors had more than twice the number of collisions compared to people who hadn’t experienced a stroke. They were also three times as likely as the drivers without strokes to drive outside road lines. Additionally, stroke survivors made more errors when making left turns, according to the study results.
Guidelines about waiting periods for driving after a stroke vary, Vesely and Hird said in an association news release. In the United States, guidelines are state-dependent. Checking with each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles is advised.