Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Driving Simulator Disposes of Myth

11.06.2007
Chronic pain patients on regular medication do not become poor drivers with Tylex in their blood.

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
Further information:
http://www.ntnu.no

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University

nachricht The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>