About one in three adults with dementia continue to be active drivers, and fifty percent of them continue driving for up to three years after their diagnosis.
But now there is a new trial underway to see whether cognitive changes that may lead to dementia down the road could be detected through driving years earlier.
Norman and Joyce Dohm like to travel the old fashion way.
“He doesn’t like to fly. We just like to see the USA by wheels,” said Joyce Dohm, Traveling the Old fashioned Way.
But this year Norman will be 80-years-old and he knows he has a great risk for mild cognitive impairment which can affect his driving.
“When you drive, you have to take into account dozens, if not hundreds of different things at once, and that’s hard when your brain isn’t working as well as it used to,” said Ruth Tappen, EDD, RN, FANN, Professor, University of Florida.
Especially for drivers with dementia they may have difficulty changing lanes, making left turns, merging, following routes, or even driving at night. But researchers believe that cognitive changes seen during driving may give early insight to dementia before noticeable symptoms can be seen.
“I think of it as a brand new early warning symptom,” said Tappen.
They are partnering with engineers to develop and test an in vehicle sensing system equipped with on boarding diagnostics, GPS, and cameras.
“Driving facing video can have AI that can detect dodginess, distractions, and it can also track eye movement,” said Dr. Jinwoo Jang, PHD, Assistant Professor at Florida Atlantic University.
Their goal is to see which driving changes indicate cognitive decline. Norman is taking part in the trial with the in-vehicle sensing system.
Even though Norman and his wife feel he is a safe driver now, any changes detected by the system can give them an early warning so Norman can hit the breaks.
“I want to be safe to drive so nobody else will be endangered because of me,” said Norman Dohm, Traveling the Old fashioned Way.
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