Call for New Driver Test to Help Improve Road Safety in Canada

TORONTO, January 16, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - A University of Toronto Psychology Professor believes a test to measure a driver's cognitive ability would go a long way in making Canada's roads safer. As Canadian clinicians become more aware of disorders that impact cognitive ability, such as post concussion syndrome, and dementias, such as Alzheimer's disease, Dr. Konstantine Zakzanis believes it's becoming increasingly important to measure a driver's cognitive ability.

"A practical and accessible screening test to identify those drivers who may be a risk to themselves and others would help to improve road safety for all drivers," said Zakzanis. "It could be used at a time of driver's license renewal, or made available anytime at a driver's request."

Zakzanis has developed a 15-minute online screening test called BrainScreen. It is patent pending, available in 20 languages and is the first test of its kind in North America.

"A whole range of factors affect a driver's cognitive skills, from medications and concussions to Alzheimer's disease," said Brian Patterson, President of the Ontario Safety League. "A standard recognized test to measure a driver's cognitive ability will take road safety to the next logical level."

About BrainScreen

Developed by Professor Konstantine Zakzanis through the University of Toronto and the Hemisphere Centre for Mental Health & Wellness, BrainScreen is an effective screening tool developed to identify cognitive disorders that result from Alzheimer's disease and other Dementia syndromes, as well as psychiatric and medical conditions such as Attention Deficit Disorder and Post-Concussive Syndrome.

"All too often delayed diagnosis prevents people from getting early treatment," said Scott Knight, Executive Director of the Hemisphere Centre for Mental Health and Wellness. "Since BrainScreen is an online test, giving the user immediate results, it serves as an early warning system for anyone to get treatment sooner - treatment that could make all the difference."

BrainScreen is easily adaptable for a range of applications from driver's license renewals and insurance underwriting and claims to improving safety in the trucking and cab industries. BrainScreen provides instant results to the user or any administrator. Similar to baseline testing in sports endeavours, BrainScreen is able to measure against past performance.

The Benefits of Cognitive Testing

In 2025, 1 in 4 Canadians will be 65 and older, making a screening test for cognitive acuity a relevant and practical tool for improving road safety.

Half a million Canadians have Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia. In other words, 71,000 Canadians under the age of 65, and 1 in 11 Canadians over the age of 65 have Alzheimer's disease. By 2040, that number is expected to more than double, according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

About Hemisphere Centre

The Hemisphere Centre for Mental Health and Wellness is a collaborative project designed to promote de-medicalized access to screening tools to aid in the identification of cognitive disorders secondary to various disorders and diseases. Combining assessment best practices and evidence-based research, the Hemisphere Centre is focused on delivering products and services that are scientifically robust, accessible and practical for use by the general public.