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TOOLS FOR ASSESSING SENSORY, COGNITIVE AND PHYSICAL FUNCTIONING

Therapists use DriveSafety driving simulators to exercise patient’s specific functional abilities that underly driving and determine if there are significant functional deficits. Private hospitals and clinics use simulators to help them test visual, cognitive and physical functions of patients with a broad range of diagnosis.

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GENERAL THERAPY

DriveSafety simulators feature the acclaimed SimClinic™ library of clinical activities that support progressive functional exercises targeting a client’s underlying sensory, cognitive and/or motor abilities that are required for not only driving, but also for many other essential activities of daily living. Such evaluations and interventions are aligned with many countries’ occupational and/or physical therapy and rehabilitation codes, and may facilitate reimbursement for health care services delivered.

1. SENSORY

Sensory-related functions that can be exercised and measured using these interactive tools include visual perception and information processing, visual-motor integration, visual fields, and proprioception.

2. COGNITIVE

DriveSafety simulators provide unique tools for evaluating as well as for practicing and strengthening cognitive skills such as divided and selective attention, working memory, problem solving and anticipatory thinking.

3. MOTOR

Therapists also use DriveSafety simulators to assess and help rehabilitate clients’ motor function. Interactive exercises and driving scenarios target clients’ physical strength, reaction time, control, endurance, and neuromuscular reeducation of movement and coordination.

ADDRESSING DRIVING

1. SCREENING/READINESS TO DRIVE EVALUATION

In addition to evaluating a client’s sensory, cognitive and motor functions, DriveSafety driving simulators’ realistic tools and scenarios provide a safe environment for testing a patient’s actual driving skills and allow therapistss to make more accurate evaluations of a client’s readiness to drive.

2. REFERRAL TO SPECIALISTS

Using a DriveSafety driving simulator can also help general therapists determine if a client has driving-related impairments that will require the expert services of a driving rehabilitation specialist.

CUSTOMERS

WILLIAM BEAUMONT MEDICAL CENTER

The William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC) at Fort Bliss, Texas, employs a multidisciplinary treatment team for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that consists of experienced TBI physicians, neuropsychologists, neurologists, optometrists, speech therapists, physical therapists and occupational therapists. Each team member evaluates aspects of performance that may affect driving ability and initiates appropriate treatment to remediate identified limitations.

In March 2011, the WBAMC purchased a DriveSafety CDS-250 Simulator to assist the team in evaluating soldiers (or service members as they are referred to) who suffered a concussion or Traumatic Brain Injury. Their objective for using the simulator is to accurately assess and make a determination as to whether there are concerns about the service members’ driving ability.

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“We have to keep our service members safe in all kinds of situations, whether they’re on the battlefield or on the freeway,” said Theresa Prudencio, Occupational Therapist (OT) and a Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) at the William Beaumont Medical Center. “When someone has suffered a head injury or concussion, our DriveSafety Simulator gives us a clear understanding of what issues he or she may have when driving and how to proceed with intervention to keep them safe behind the wheel.”

Most often it is the physicians at Fort Bliss specializing in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), who request that service members get tested using the DriveSafety simulator. In addition, the optometrist may request an assessment on the driving simulator due to a change in a service member’s visual field. Vision plays a critical role in safe driving and driving simulation can be used for both assessment and retraining of visual skills.

“Soldiers are very hands-on individuals by nature,” noted Theresa. “They enjoy performing specific tasks in our simulator as part of their assessment and therapy.”

With the DriveSafety simulator, Theresa and her team can perform tests in two areas: operational skills and tactical performance. Operational skills are categorized as driving actions such as steering, braking, merging, and staying in the lane. Tactical skills are categorized as responding to changes in the driving environment, such as reacting to an object in the road, or avoiding another driver who performs an unsafe action.

With these tests, Theresa can assess the competence and confidence of service members behind the wheel. If she uncovers a performance impairment, she can train him or her on those specific skills using the simulator. “Most of our service members really enjoy their time with the simulator,” added Theresa. “They like to practice their skills in a realistic environment that is safe and non-threatening.”

One goal of the center is to use the simulator to establish norms for driving acuity by benchmarking levels of performance across a broad sample size. From there, they can assess and determine an individual’s performance compared to the norms. Over time, they will be able to enhance their curriculum and provide greater clarity and precision on diagnosis and their accompanying remedies.

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When someone has suffered a head injury or concussion, our DriveSafety Simulator gives us a clear understanding of what issues he or she may have when driving and how to proceed with intervention to keep them safe behind the wheel.

Teresa Prudencio, OT and CDRS
William Beaumont Medical Center

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