Olfactory discrimination and identification as prognostic markers of fitness-to-drive in older drivers

Scientific reports(2022)

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The necessity for reliable, standardized and validated fitness to drive assessment tools for older drivers have been highlighted and discussed for over three decades. Existing neuropsychological tests of driving performance are focusing mostly on visuo-spatial attention and executive functioning rather than other senses. Over the last decade, olfactory deterioration has been found to be associated with cognitive decline and predicting transition from mild cognitive impairment to dementia. The AGILE fitness to drive battery is standardized for older drivers. In this study it was adapted to include the olfactory Sniff’ and Stick’s test. The aim was to investigate the value of relevant deficits as predictive markers of driving ability in three driving groups (older drivers with: (a) no impairment (controls), (b) with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and (c) MCI and other chronic conditions, i.e., comorbidities). So far, no other study has investigated the predictive value of olfactory deficits in driving ability. The findings revealed that discrimination is important for the first year of the examination and as the decline progresses, identification becomes the better olfactory marker. The latter is also evident in the literature. Hence, the results showed that less indicators are required compared to the initial battery. The olfactory markers were dominant over the neuropsychological tests, apart from alertness, for predicting the older driver’s fitness to drive regardless of the presence of cognitive impairment and other chronic conditions.
Biomarkers,Engineering,Neuroscience,Science,Humanities and Social Sciences,multidisciplinary
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