There are 5 million Americans living with the lasting effects of a brain injury, and when those people are ready to get back behind the wheel of a car, it can be a very complex undertaking. Normally, the only way to know they're ready is to try. But now, experts at Kessler Research Institute have devised a virtual reality driving simulator that helps evaluate people who've suffered brain injuries, whether from trauma, stroke or disease.
"We can now look at exactly what speed is a patient going in a particular driving zone. Exactly how far from a stop sign are they coming to a full stop," says Dr. Maria Schultheis, of Kessler Research Corporation.
Not only is this a safer way to start again, but the simulator identifies in what way the driver still needs some help. It also forces the driver to make challenging situations in a safe environment before the risks are serious in the real world. The driving simulator is also being tested to see if it could help evaluate senior citizens or patients with illnesses to determine if decision making and reaction times are too slow to be safe on the road.