Although screens and assessments are often used interchangeably, there are important distinctions.
A screen is a process or test to identify the possible presence of an as-yet-undiagnosed health or safety risk in an individual. Screens are usually short in duration. In driving, a screen is used to identify individuals who have a higher probability of being an unsafe driver for further investigation and/or intervention. There are screens that look at different aspects of driving: cognitive, motor and sensory.
An assessment is a more comprehensive analysis or evaluation of a condition to facilitate a diagnosis and treatment plan. In driving, an assessment is used to determine if an individual has the functional abilities needed to be a safe driver. An assessment provides information that can be used to determine the most appropriate intervention for a specific driver.
Driving is a complex activity. It requires a combination of cognitive, motor and sensory functional abilities to work together.
Cognitive abilities include the thinking related to driving, it’s what happens in your brain:
Motor abilities include the physical part of driving:
Sensory abilities include:
Driver fitness is the ability to perform all these functions in a way that allows you to operate a vehicle in a safe manner.
Any medical condition or injury that affects the three functional abilities (Cognitive, Motor and Sensory) related to driving can impact the ability to drive safely. Here are some common medical conditions and injuries known to impact a driver’s ability to drive safely:
If you have any of these conditions it does not necessarily mean you have to give up driving. For some progressive conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease driving cessation is an eventual reality. But for others, there are adaptations that can help a driver maintain their ability to drive safely.
For some medical conditions, the effect on driving is obvious. If you have lost a limb or the use of a limb the impact is evident and immediate. However, with conditions that cause cognitive impairment, the impact is not always so straightforward. Even mild cognitive impairment can affect the ability to drive safely. And mild cognitive impairment is not easy to diagnose.
The best way to determine if someone’s driving is affected by a medical condition or injury is through a functional assessment of those abilities. Though it might seem that an on-road evaluation would be best, this is not always the case, particularly with cognitive impairments. Road conditions and traffic volumes can affect the sensitivity of a regular on-road evaluation to effectively assess cognitive functional abilities. Choosing which assessment is appropriate for specific conditions is best done through consultation with a health professional. If you have a concern or question, give us a call 1-888-465-4666.
People recover from medical events and injuries at different rates. When to return to driving will depend on if your functional abilities related to driving are affected. To be a safe driver you need the following abilities working together effectively:
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