Source Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Virginia Commonwealth University and McGuire VA Medical Center, 1201 Broad Rock Boulevard, Richmond, VA, 23249, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org.
BACKGROUND: Minimal hepatic encephalopathy (MHE) is associated with poor driving skills and insight. Increasing insight may improve receptiveness for therapy or driving restrictions.
AIM: To evaluate the change in the self-assessment of driving skills (SADS) using a driving simulator.
METHODS: Cirrhotic patients and age/education-matched controls underwent MHE testing with inhibitory control (ICT) and the psychometric hepatic encephalopathy score (PHES). SADS, a Likert scale from 0 to 10, was administered just before and after a standardized driving simulation comprising testing and navigation tasks. The percentage SADS change from baseline was compared within/between groups.
RESULTS: A total of 84 patients (60% men, age 55 years) and 12 controls were included. Controls were significantly better than cirrhotics on cognitive/simulator testing. The baseline SADS was similar between the groups. The baseline patient SADS was only correlated with ICT lures (r = -0.4, P = 0.001). Post-simulation, 60% of patients improved their insight, i.e., reduced SADS (from 8 to 6.5, P = 0.0001) compared to 25% of controls (P = 0.02). The mean percentage SADS reduction was also higher in cirrhotics (18% vs. 8%, P = 0.03). MHE on ICT patients had a significantly higher SADS improvement (P = 0.004) compared to the other patients; no difference was seen in those with/without MHE due to the PHES. The percentage SADS reduction in patients was correlated with getting lost (r = 0.468, P < 0.0001), crashes (P = 0.002), and centerline/road-edge excursions (P = 0.01). There was a significantly higher percentage SADS reduction in cirrhotics who got lost (25%) compared to those who did not get lost (12%) and controls (8%, P = 0.014).
CONCLUSIONS: Insight into driving skills in cirrhosis improves after driving simulation and is highest in those with navigation errors and MHE on ICT. Driving simulator-associated insight improvement may be the first step towards the cognitive rehabilitation of driving skills in cirrhosis.