ROADI’s Project Director
Dr. Anne Dickerson, professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, has been researching functional performance of older adults since early 1990's. When the American Occupational Therapy Association identified Older Adult Drivers as an emerging practice area in 2003, she began to focus on the functional performance of driving and has become one of the leading occupational therapy researchers and experts in this growing area.
Anne Dickerson attended the North Carolina Driver Instructor Training program. Currently, Dr. Dickerson is a member of the North Carolina Older Driver Safety Coalition, was a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging, is an instructor in the educational program CarFit, and collaborates with other researchers in this dynamic area.
Educational Background and Information: Anne Dickerson has been an occupational therapist for over 30 years, primarily teaching at universities and colleges. She has been at ECU since 1993 in the Department of Occupational Therapy. She graduated summa cum laude from Temple University with a degree in occupational therapy, has a master's degree in allied health education/health administration from Texas State University, and a master's degree and PhD in developmental psychology from Florida International University. She is editor of Occupational Therapy in Health Care and recognized nationally as a leader in education. She was awarded a fellow in the American Occupational Therapy Association and holds other honors from her professional organizations and university.
Why occupational therapy and driving?
Occupational therapists are health care professionals who help individuals with skills for the job of living. Occupational therapists assist when individuals have difficulty with their daily tasks, including community mobility and transportation. Driving is a component of transportation that is critical to individuals across the lifespan. It becomes an issue when medical illnesses and diseases, as well as aging impacts an individual’s ability to continue to drive safely.
What do occupational therapists when considering driving?
- Evaluate older adults to determine any physical, visual, or cognitive limitations that could affect how they areable to drive a car.
- Conduct an on-the-road driving test to determine how problems identified in the evaluation affect a person’sability to drive safely.
- Provide training to drivers that improves their ability to drive safely.
- Recommend adaptive equipment and train older drivers how to use the equipment to help them continue to drive andget around safely and appropriately.
More information about occupational therapy and driving can be gathered from the AOTA’s website at: http://www.aota.org/older-driver
What is happening at ROADI?
There are several avenues of research that are being pursued under ROADI. Most of the studies have involved master's degree occupational therapy students. In addition, there have been service projects related to driving undertaken by Anne Dickerson and members of ROADI research team.
- Driving Evaluations. A survey of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists was completed and is currently being analyzed. The data will assist us in determining how to define what is elements the general occupational therapy practitioners can perform and when the individual requires the specialized testing from a certified driving rehabilitation specialized. Dr. Dickerson has proposed an algorithm that has been presented nationally and will be published in an upcoming issue of American Journal of Occupational Therapy.
- Driving Simulation Research. ROADI has a dedicated laboratory with a driving simulator. There are several studies underway using the simulator including: developing and ranking scenarios as norms for use by therapists who may use driving simulators in their practice, a driving self awareness study for older adults that might be at risk for unsafe driving, and a study to compare the reaction times in a simulator to reaction times of a simple time tester.
- On-Line Education. State Farm Good Neighbor Insurance Program generously supported Anne Dickerson to develop on-line courses for 1) general practice occupational therapists who want to know more about driving to use in their practice area and 2) for those practitioners interested in pursuing driver specialization. The first course is about the activity of driving and the second course will focus on driving evaluations.
- At-Risk Screening Tool. One of the first objectives of ROADI was the development of a screening tool for "at-risk" activities, such as driving. A completed master's thesis has been the beginning of the long-term project with the goal of interviewing older adults and caregivers about IADL tasks that are impacted by the aging process.
- CarFit. Anne Dickerson, as one of the few national instructors of CarFit, works with AOTA to increase the numbers of occupational therapy practitioners that volunteer in the national program of CarFit.
- Brake Reaction Timer. Over the last couple years, occupational therapy students have assisted Anne Dickerson in the collection of data to gain norms for the new RT-2S Simple Brake Reaction Time Tester. This tester has been demonstrated as more reliable and valid than the AAA Blue Box that has been used for years by driving evaluators.
Other ECU researchers associated with ROADI.
- Leonard Trujillo
- D. Mike Bradley
- Jane Painter
Completed student projects associated with ROADI
Publications and Presentations related to ROADI