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Facilitating Cognitive Understanding

When treating athletes who had suffered mild concussions, the College of Medicine’s Dr. Gene Hong noticed something peculiar. For the first few appointments, his patients would arrive at his office accompanied by a parent. But after a few visits, many students started showing up alone. They had decided they could safely drive themselves to see him.

The problem is, they may not have been able to yet.

Hong knew many were still recovering from their brain injury. But because there is no empiric data to definitively show impaired driving ability with a concussion, it’s hard for a physician to know when an affected person is ready to safely resume driving or return to the playing field.

Through Drexel’s novel Human Cognition Enhancement Program (HCEP), Hong, who is chair of the College of Medicine’s family, community and preventive medicine department and chief of the sports medicine division, has connected with Dr. Maria Schultheis, an associate professor in psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, to explore the capabilities of concussion patients in a computer-based driving simulator. Together they applied for and received National Institutes of Health funding that is enabling Hong and Schultheis to get hard data on his patients’ performance in the simulator.

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