Driving Simulator for Persons with Impaired Cognition

Principal Investigator(s):

William Durfee, Professor, Mechanical Engineering


  • Erica Stern, Former Associate Professor, Physical Med/Rehabilitation

Project summary:

Brain injury frequently results in cognitive impairment, reducing an individual's ability to judge driving situations accurately. Rehabilitation professionals use on-road tests to determine if an individual is able to drive safely, but these tests are typically performed under calm conditions and offer little information on the individual's responses to typical, real-life driving challenges. The purpose of this project is to adapt STISIM Drive, a relatively low-cost, high-performance driving simulator, for the clinical rehabilitation market for use by rehabilitation driving professionals and their clients with cognitive impairments. Feasibility was demonstrated in an earlier (Phase I) research project, which resulted in the creation of a driving scenario that offers increasingly complex driving challenges as the route proceeds, the development of data collection and analysis procedures to quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate driving performance and the pilot testing of the scenario, data collection and processing methods using five subjects with mild cognitive impairments and five age-matched control subjects with no impairments. The results demonstrated that the simulator was capable of identifying significant driving differences between the two groups. In Phase II, improvements to the hardware and software of STISIM have been implemented. A multi-center clinical study is being conducted with a total of 90 subjects to evaluate test-retest reliability, discriminant validity and concurrent validity of STISIM when using subjects with cognitive impairments. In addition, a self-awareness pilot study is being conducted to explore the therapeutic value of STISIM.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2006079
  • Start date: 01/2003
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Transportation Safety and Traffic Flow
  • Topics: Driver Performance and Behavior