Thursday, January 26, 2017

Driving Simulator Helps Patients Get Back Behind the Wheel

A new virtual reality driving simulator at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute  is helping patients regain driving skills following injuries and illnesses.

According to the Spokesman-Review, the simulator, the first of its kind in the area, will help patients regain basic driving skills. It gives patients an interactive, realistic experience to prepare them to be behind the wheel again following spinal and other injuries and illnesses that reduce mobility.

The simulator has a driver’s wheel and other hand controls and foot pedals. The road is three video screens that can show 80 different road scenarios, such as pedestrians crossing the street, a traffic light changing or a vehicle moving slowly. The scenarios test and train for vehicle control, reaction time, attention to the road, memory, planning and navigation and hazard perception. This allows patients to practice without the pressure of real traffic.

The simulator can also be used for research on how different injuries or illnesses can affect driving.

Grants for the $80,000 machine came from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, Empire Health Foundation and Providence Health Care Foundation.

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About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.