Introduction: Safe driving requires integration of higher-order cognitive and motor functions, which are commonly compromised in patients with antibody-mediated encephalitis (AME) associated with N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors or leucine-rich glioma-inactivated 1 autoantibodies. How these deficits influence the return to safe driving is largely unknown. Recognizing this, we piloted non-invasive remote monitoring technology to longitudinally assess driving behaviors in recovering AME patients. Methods: Five recovering AME patients [median age, 52 years (range 29–67); two females] were recruited from tertiary care clinics at Washington University (St. Louis, MO). Trip data and aggressive actions (e.g., hard braking, sudden acceleration, speeding) were continuously recorded using a commercial Global Positioning System data logger when the patient's vehicle was driven by the designated driver. Longitudinal driving data were compared between AME patients and cognitively normal older adults (2:1 sex-matched) enrolled within parallel studies. Results: Driving behaviors were continuously monitored for a median of 29 months (range, 21–32). AME patients took fewer daily trips during the last vs. the first 6 months of observation, with a greater proportion of trips exceeding 10 miles. Compared to cognitively normal individuals, AME patients were more likely to experience hard braking events as recovery progressed. Despite this, no accidents were self-reported or captured by the data logger. Conclusion: Driving behaviors can be continuously monitored in AME patients using non-invasive means for protracted periods. Longitudinal changes in driving behavior may parallel functional recovery, warranting further study in expanded cohorts of recovering AME patients.
- N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor