OBJECTIVE: Motor, perceptual, and cognitive functions are known to affect driving competence. Subcortical ischemic changes on brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can reflect reduction in cognitive and motor performance. However, few studies have reported the relationship between subcortical ischemic changes and driving competence of the elderly. Thus, the objective of this study was to investigate the association between subcortical ischemic changes on MRI and driving abilities of the elderly.
METHODS: Participants (n=540) were drawn from a nationwide, multicenter, hospital-based, longitudinal cohort. Each participant underwent MRI scan and interview for driving capacity categorized into 'now driving' and 'driving cessation (driven before, not driving now)'. Participants were divided into three groups (mild, n=389: moderate, n=116: and severe, n=35) depending on the degree of white matter hyperintensity (WMH) on MRI at baseline. Driving status was evaluated at follow-up. Statistical analyses were conducted using chi2 test, analysis of variance (ANOVA), structured equation model (SEM), and generalized estimating equation (GEE).
RESULTS: In SEM, greater baseline degree of WMH was directly associated with driving cessation regardless of cognitive or motor dysfunction (beta=-0.110, p<0.001). In GEE models after controlling for age, sex, education, cognitive, and motor dysfunction, more severe change in the degree of WMH was associated with faster change from 'now driving' state to 'driving cessation' state over time in the elderly (beta=-0.508, p<0.001).
CONCLUSION: In both cross-sectional and longitudinal results, the degree of subcortical ischemic change on MRI might predict driving cessation in the elderly.
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