Scientists Ask: When Should Alzheimer's Patients Stop Driving?

Taking a parent or friend off the road because of Alzheimer's is a tough decision for everyone involved, but scientists are using a tricked-out Ford Taurus to determine just when to hang up the keys.

Pops might not be too pleased at the prospect, but at some point, taking early stage Alzeimer's patients off the road is the safe decision, for them and for the rest of the motoring public. Scientists at the University of Iowa are using 35-mile test route and a tricked out Ford Taurus to help develop a simple doctor's office test determine when a patient becomes a danger to themselves and others. Volunteers are tested up front with a variety of cognitive and reaction tests, then the subjects hop in a Taurus with cameras looking in on everything and recording data on a black box. Mistakes on the course are noted and the testing data is combined with the driving data is combined to determine if there is noteworthy correlation.

So far the biostatistics scientists have determined failure in multitasking tests has a strong correlation to driving performance whereas memory tests have a much weaker correlation. The hope is to one day boil down the tests which best predict driving performance so they can be given at a doctors office. [AP]