The Driving Study

Evaluating Assessment Tools And Driving Outcomes In Youth and Young Adults With Cerebral Palsy: A Pilot Study

For many adolescents, licensure presents a means of increasing independence and is one of the first milestones in the transition toward adulthood for youth developing typically. However, for individuals with cerebral palsy (CP), reaching this milestone can be challenging. Individuals with CP in Alberta who would like to learn to drive, are required to inform the government and may be required to go through a functional assessment performed by an occupational therapist. Vehicle adaptations and specialized driving lessons may be required, and the costs associated with these may constitute a significant monetary investment without a guaranteed return. An individual may undergo a pre-driving assessment to determine fitness to drive. This includes a driving consult with physicians and occupational therapists who have access to a number of assessment tools. Usually these assessments occur when an individual who was once healthy seeks to return to driving after suffering a brain injury or disease that may have negatively affected their ability to drive. This is not the case for youth with CP as their medical condition is caused by damage to the brain in early development and they have no previous driving experience. In reviewing the literature, common driving assessment tools have not been validated for use with youth with CP. Further research is needed to determine whether these measures are useful in making inferences about driving outcomes for the CP population.

We are trying to find out if commonly used screening assessments are sensitive and predictive of whether an individual will pass or fail their on-road driving test? We aim to determine if these assessments are equally sensitive and predictive of driving test outcomes between people with cerebral palsy and typically developing matched controls.

Study Partners

Who is participating?

This study will include 3 groups of 16 to 25 year olds, who must be able to use a brake pedal with their foot.

  1. Youth with cerebral palsy who have successfully achieved licensure;
  2. Youth with cerebral palsy who have attempted but failed to achieve licensure;
  3. Typically developing youth who have successfully achieved licensure.

What are participants doing?

Research will be conducted at the Alberta Children’s Hospital with the KINARM for one 3-hour assessment.

Participants will be asked to complete 4 surveys (Pre-session Questions, Driving History Questionnaire, Handedness Questionnaire, Post-session Questions). Participants will complete a clinical assessment including common cognitive tests to measure your verbal ability, spatial skills, visual scanning and processing speed, attention, and cognitive flexibility. Participants will complete a robotic assessment to evaluate visual scanning, processing speed, attention, and dual tasking. Additionally, participants will be asked to perform a braking task, which requires them to brake, as they would in a car, in response to objects that appear on the screen.

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