Researchers from Clemson University, Clemson, SC, along with simulation technology company DriveSafety, developed a new driving simulator designed for patient rehabilitation. The simulator is now being used at 11 Army, Navy, and Veterans Affairs facilities.

Driving simulators allow therapists and patients to focus on treatment areas including cognitive, perceptual, and physical skills. "Our ultimate goal is to enable drivers to maximize their independence," said Clemson psychology professor and researcher Johnell Brooks.

"The research provides Clemson students with hands-on opportunities as well as improves the quality of patient care in hospitals through new patient services," Brooks said. "The work with the simulators also may aid in the development of more efficient and safer vehicles."

The rehabilitation simulator and associated tools first were developed and tested in the psychology department and at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR). The partnership with CU-ICAR allows for the study of new engineering applications, including the use of devices for drivers who can’t operate a vehicle using their feet.

The engineering research is led by Paul Venhovens, the BMW Endowed Chair in Automotive Systems Integration.

In its evolution from lab research to clinical application, work with the simulator has led to additional programs at the Greenville Hospital System’s Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital.

[Source: Clemson University via Medical News Today]