It is an accepted truth that strong pain killers and addictive medication such as Tylex and Panadeine Forte affect our driving skills negatively. The red warning triangle on the case also indicates that people taking this drug should stay away from the wheel.
This is definitely true if you are not using them regularly. However, if you are a chronic pain patient and a regular user of strong pain killers, the recommendations are only partly scientifically based. The potential connection between driving skills and medication called opioids has been established based on surveys and information provided by driving instructors.
Now, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim have conducted several tests using advanced simulation. For the very first time, a driving simulator is used for free research in this area.
”We wish to contribute to making the advice and recommendations from the health authorities as correct as possible,” say the two pain researchers behind the experiment – Petter Borchgrevink and Halvard Nilsen.
Same effect of pain
The tests include chronic pain patients regularly using Tylex or Panadeine Forte, corresponding patients not using such medication and a healthy control group not on medication. None of the patients suffer from malignant diseases, and all are experienced drivers.
Based on the first simulator test, the conclusion is more or less as follows: The best thing is to be free from both pain and medication behind the wheel. Both pain patient groups displayed poorer reactivity and steering skills whether they were on medication or not.
There is no doubt that addictive pain killers affect our reactivity and steering skills negatively if we are not used to them. However, chronic pain patients experience the same effect if they do not take their regular medication and drive with migraine or aching joints.
Compensate for «handicaps»
”We have established that driving skills are affected negatively by both chronic pain and opioids such as Tylex. A more detailed understanding of the connections, and the seriousness of the consequences, will follow when the next investigation on the subject has been thoroughly analyzed," the two doctors emphasize.
They do not see any reason why this group of regular users of pain killers should be branded as particularly dangerous in traffic. These patients are not overrepresented in accident statistics, nor are they stopped more often than others due to senseless driving.
According to Borchgrevink and Nielsen, the reason could be that most people almost automatically try to compensate for a handicap. In this case, it means that most drivers who know that they have a bad day with pain or opioids in their bodies drive more carefully than usual.
Increasing use of pills
The number of diseases people can contract are countless, and the use of addictive opioids is increasing in all of the Western world. So does the use of cars. And the recommendations for the medications are not necessarily correct – which is why the research being conducted at St. Olav’s Hospital and NTNU is very important.
And it could never have taken place without NTNU’s and SINTEF's advanced driving simulator. The simulator registers and measures the driver’s reactions, skills and eye movements as well as the general behaviour in traffic.
Here people get as close to real traffic situations as possible without actually being on the road.
”When we are testing driving skills and the use of medication, we are looking for situations that could be dangerous. That means we cannot stuff the patients full of opioids and send them out on the road,” explains Nilsen.
”And so far it has been impossible to evaluate driving skills equally standardized and objectively using normal cars in traffic," Borchgrevink adds.
First in the world with simulator?
In principle, any medication can be tested in a driving simulator, and not only pain killers. It quite simply does not happen. These advanced simulators are expensive, and the few that exist overseas are used solely for commissioned research. That does not necessarily result in public knowledge. But NTNU’s and SINTEF’s driving simulator is available to others.
Borchgrevink and Nilsen therefore claim that the work they carry out in cooperation with SINTEF could be called ground-breaking. ”We have a unique opportunity to build free, open and scientifically based research at top international level on the connection between medication and driving skills," they state.
Petter Borchgrevink is chief physician at the National Competence Centre for Complex Sufferings/The pain Centre at St. Olav’s Hospital and adjunct professor at NTNU. Halvard Nilsen is chief physician at Ålesund Hospital and research fellow at NTNU.
By Lisa Olstad/Gemini
Nina Tveter | alfa
Penn study identifies new malaria parasites in wild bonobos
21.11.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures
17.11.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Life Sciences