TJ02000036: Back to the wheel – Diagnostic and rehabilitative tool for persons after the brain damage

The goal of this project is to create a manual for driver´s rehabilitation by means of a driving simulator and diagnostic and training device extending the functions of the simulator. By using the developed device and methodology, people after the brain injury will be able to acquire the driving skills again.  The developed device will contain the tools for monitoring biomedicinal data and movement reactions of patients. The created algorithm and methodology will enable to define and evaluate hazardous situations during the use of the driving simulator. Within the project, a battery of cognitive tests using the driving simulator including the measurement of biomedicinal data will be be designed.  The device, as a new rehabilitation tool, will help to treat and integrate patients after the brain injury into the society.

The functional sample of the diagnostic and training device for persons after the brain damage

The manual for driver´s rehabilitation of persons with the brain damage for neurorehabilitation staff.

The diagnostic and training extension of the driving simulator for persons after the brain damage

Introductory information about results and course of the project

For many people, driving a car is as important an activity as buying food or cooking.   For some people, it is even “bread and butter”; for others, it is a symbol of freedom and independence. We drive a car to get to work, to see a doctor, or to visit our relatives or friends.  If you want to find out more, click HERE.

However, what should we do when our health is an obstacle to driving?

Some health issues really exclude driving. Various types of brain damage have been one of those problems until recently. A cerebrovascular accident, head injury and other complications often meant a definite end of driving for drivers.  Currently, one does not need to give up straight away. A research team consisting of experts from the Czech Technical University in Prague, experts from the social sciences, neurological and traffic-psychological practice working in the INESAN company and the staff of the neurorehabilitation centre ERGO Aktiv now brings a hope for drivers after the brain damage.

They have been designing a unique driving simulator, which will be able to monitor the behaviour of a driver (a person after the brain damage) at the wheel. The simulator records the drive and determine the area, which the relevant client has problems with. Then it will deign a training programme for the client, which will help him/her exactly in those areas, where he/she actually needs help.  If you want to find out more, click HERE.

For correct designing of the simulator, firstly it is necessary to find out how the simulated drive is handled by drivers who have no limitations.  Currently, testing of healthy volunteers is carried out. Thanks to that, the volunteers can learn how quick their reactions are, how they know the individual car components, and how they were doing in the simulated drive compared to other involved persons.  Do you have a driving licence and want to test your driving skills? Click HERE.

If you want to find out more about the simulator, do not hesitate to contact us.

Why is it important to get back to driving?

Maintaining relations with relatives and colleagues

For many people, the ability to drive a car is connected with the maintaining of relations with friends and family, tourism, as well as return to work.  Available researches show less than one half of people who suffered from the acquired brain injury are able to get back to work. The end of active driving is a frequent reason for the failure. Early return to the wheel provably increases the chance to keep work and relations with their closest.

Peace of mind and mental ease

Researches show that driving affects also the peace of mind and mental ease of drivers. Scientists noticed differences between persons with the acquired brain damage, who stopped driving and who returned to driving. Return to driving means lower occurrence of depressions and other mental problems for older people.

Rehabilitation by the simulator

Driving simulators have been used so far only as part of training new drivers in driving schools, or for testing reactions to fatique etc. The designed solution of the Back to the Wheel project thus means an absolute turning point. The created simulator carries out the initial diagnostics of a driver, and if its result is positive, it will tailor a training programme to their needs.  In this programme, the driver can train and thus do the rehabilitation.  Thanks to the rehabilitation, drivers can renew their skills, but mainly the self-confidence and assuredness behind the wheel.

Overcoming fear

Returning to the wheel can be accompanied by many fears. Will I handle it? Will I react as promptly as before? Has not my spatial orientation worsened too much? These are several examples of questions that usually concern people who want to get back to driving after the brain damage. We know returning to driving is not simple. But you can handle it with us!

For whom will the simulator be intended?

The simulator will be intended for people who have suffered the brain damage caused by one of the following reasons:

  • cerebrovascular accident (cerebral stroke or cerebral haemorrhage)
  • brain injury (as a result of e.g. a car accident, fall from a bike, while skiing, etc.)
  • brain surgery of various etiology
  • conditions after tumour diseases of the brain
  • cerebral hypoxia and anoxia
  • other toxic or metabolic damage
  • infections or any other inflammation

In the Czech Republic, approximately 80 thousand people are hospitalised with the acquired brain damage each year. At the same time, available researches show the driving skills can be renewed after the right training in more than one third of patients with the acquired brain damage.

We aim to make the testing available for as many interested people as possible. One of the few conditions that must be met by the interested people is a driving licence valid at the time before the brain damage.

The following person cannot be tested:

  • persons that suffered the spinal cord damage and require manual control of a car,
  • persons who have been diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy,
  • people suffering from a heavy form of motion sickness.

Regarding the fact that driving with a simulator is not the same as driving in a car in all aspects, the testing is not intended for deciding whether the tested person should or should drive. Thanks to the participation, the tested persons after the brain damage will find out in which areas their performance in the simulator differs from the ordinary population, and will be able to train those particular areas in the simulator further.

The testing results will serve for setting up and development of the simulator.