Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Jyothi Gupta, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA


Driving is an important activity that enables independence and cessation of driving leads to decreased quality of life including depression, poorer health outcomes, and decreased longevity. Distraction and multi-tasking while driving often leads to disastrous results, highlighting the importance of attention and cognition for safe driving. Drivers with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) are at particular risk for driving cessation or reduced safety due to progressive difficulties in both motor and cognitive function. A characteristic feature of cognitive impairment in PD is difficulty to begin or change self-initiated movement based on implicit or contextual cues. People with PD rely more heavily on external or explicit cues to overcome their slowed and small movements. The purpose of this study is to compare the effects of explicit instruction for task prioritization with implicit cues on shifts in attention during lane-keeping (steering) and car-following (acceleration/braking) behavior during simulated driving performance of drivers with PD and age-matched healthy older adults.

The study described in this paper is currently completing its data collection phase. The aim of this paper is to describe the methods used to address the primary goal of characterizining impairments in dual-task abilities of individuals with PD. By doing so, it is anticipated that the data will contribute to the development of PD specific rehabilitation and training protocols to improve the driving quality, community mobility and safety, and ultimately the quality of life of this population.