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Parkinson's Disease Affects Driving

People who suffer from Parkinson's disease have trouble driving safely, according to a study report.//

"Multitasking such as cell phone or passenger conversation puts drivers with Parkinson's disease at higher risk of driving errors than controls," said Dr. Ergin Y. CU of the University of Iowa and the VA Medical Center in Iowa City to the reporters.

The study was focused on the performance of 71 drivers with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease and 147 drivers with no neurological disorders. All belonged to a similar age group.

The participants were given a verbal task similar to the amount of distraction one normally has while having a conversation with a passenger or using a cell phone while driving.

It was found that while distracted, 28 percent of those with Parkinson's disease made more driving mistakes compared to 16 percent of those who did not have Parkinson's disease.

During distracted driving, those with Parkinson's disease drove at slower speeds and had less control over speed and steering. They also performed poorly on tests of memory, balance, vision and cognitive flexibility (the ability to switch attention between competing tasks) as well as daytime sleepiness.

"Clearly, Parkinson's disease can affect the ability to drive, and that effect grows as the disease progresses," CU said. "People with Parkinson's disease should be aware of this potential decline in driving ability and their family and friends should also monitor it and then recheck periodically."


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