Michael L. Alosco, Marc S. Penn, Mary Beth Spitznagel, Mary Jo Cleveland, Brian R. Ott, John Gunstad; Reduced Physical Fitness in Patients With Heart Failure as a Possible Risk Factor for Impaired Driving Performance. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(2):6902260010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.013573
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
OBJECTIVE. Reduced physical fitness secondary to heart failure (HF) may contribute to poor driving; reduced physical fitness is a known correlate of cognitive impairment and has been associated with decreased independence in driving. No study has examined the associations among physical fitness, cognition, and driving performance in people with HF.
METHOD. Eighteen people with HF completed a physical fitness assessment, a cognitive test battery, and a validated driving simulator scenario.
RESULTS. Partial correlations showed that poorer physical fitness was correlated with more collisions and stop signs missed and lower scores on a composite score of attention, executive function, and psychomotor speed. Cognitive dysfunction predicted reduced driving simulation performance.
CONCLUSION. Reduced physical fitness in participants with HF was associated with worse simulated driving, possibly because of cognitive dysfunction. Larger studies using on-road testing are needed to confirm our findings and identify clinical interventions to maximize safe driving.
Reduced physical fitness in people with HF may increase risk for unsafe driving because of its negative effects on cognitive function.
Occupational therapy clients may benefit from screening for cognitive function and fitness levels to aid in disease management of HF and help identify risk for unsafe driving.
Occupational therapy interventions that target improved fitness (e.g., exercise) or cognitive function may preserve driving abilities, among other IADLs, in older adults with heart failure.
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