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Evidence of attentional impairments using virtual driving simulation in multiple sclerosis

Abstract : Background Detection of attentional disorders in complex situation related to daily life activities in multiple sclerosis patients needs better adapted tools than traditional cognitive assessment. Objective To investigate the usefulness of virtual reality assessment of attention in multiple sclerosis, especially to evaluate alertness and divided attention using driving simulation. Methods In this preliminary study, 11 relapsing-remitting patients (median EDSS: 2; mean disease duration of 10.3 years) and 11 healthy matched controls performed a driving simulation under three conditions (monotonous driving, divided attention driving and urban driving) where Standard Deviation of Lateral position (SDLP) was the main evaluated criteria. In comparison, traditional cognitive assessment of attentional functions was administered (SDMT, alertness and divided attention of TAP battery). Statistical non-parametric Mann-Whitney U tests were used to compare performances between groups in the two types of assessments. Exploratory correlational analyses were further conducted. Results No significant difference was observed between groups for traditional attentional assessment except for information processing speed (SDMT; p < 0.01). Considering virtual reality, patients were less efficient than controls on the primary parameter of safe driving (SDLP; p < 0.05). They also committed more errors and omissions (p < 0.01) and speed fluctuations (p < 0.01) during the divided-attention driving condition. Urban driving did not reveal difference between groups. Lack of significant correlations between traditional and virtual reality attentional assessment suggested that they do not evaluate the same cognitive processes. Conclusion Patients experienced difficulties in maintaining the trajectory and the speed of the simulated vehicle which may be indicative of attentional difficulties, especially alertness and divided attention. These impairments were not revealed by the traditional cognitive assessment. Results of this preliminary study shed new light about the usefulness of virtual reality techniques and their future interest as a part of cognitive rehabilitation programs. They also highlights the need to develop driving preventive measures in MS.
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Submitted on : Thursday, October 3, 2019 - 4:25:29 PM
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C. Harand, A. Mondou, D. Chevanne, Ml. Bocca, Gilles Defer. Evidence of attentional impairments using virtual driving simulation in multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, Elsevier, 2018, 25, pp.251-257. ⟨10.1016/j.msard.2018.08.005⟩. ⟨hal-02305036⟩



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