HealthDay News — Driving is a challenge for many patients with chronic whiplash disorder, but physical and cognitive impairments beyond the common shared symptoms of pain and dizziness may play a role in fitness to drive, results of a small study suggest.

Gwendolyn Jull, PhD, of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study to examine the physical, cognitive and psychological domains contributing to self-reported driving difficulties in 40 individuals with chronic whiplash-associated disorders.

The contribution of independent variables (physical, cognitive and psychological domains) was assessed for each of the three driving task performance levels (strategic, tactical and operational levels of the Neck Pain Driving Index). The models were adjusted for neck pain, dizziness and relevant demographics.

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The physical domain was defined as range and maximum speed of head rotation, gaze stability, eye-head coordination and visual dependency. The cognitive domain consisted of self-reported symptoms including fatigue and the trail making tests, and the psychological domain consisted of general stress, traumatic stress, depression and fear of neck movements and driving.

The researchers found that, in the strategic and tactical levels, symptom duration related to driving difficulty. The cognitive domain had an independent contribution to difficulties in driving tasks at the strategic and operational levels (P< 0.1). The physical domain had an independent contribution to driving tasks at the tactical level (P< 0.1).

“Physical and cognitive impairments independently contributed to self-reported driving difficulty in chronic whiplash-associated disorder beyond neck pain, dizziness and symptom duration,” the researchers wrote.


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