We have previously demonstrated an abnormally delayed mean brake response time and an increased frequency of abnormally delayed brake responses in a group of neuropathic diabetic drivers compared with a control group of drivers with neither diabetes nor lower extremity neuropathy. The objective of the present case-control study was to compare the mean brake response time between neuropathic diabetic drivers with and without specific diabetic foot pathology. The braking performances of the participants were evaluated using a computerized driving simulator with specific measurement of the mean brake response time and the frequency of abnormally delayed brake responses. We analyzed a control group of 20 active drivers with type 2 diabetes, lower extremity neuropathy, and no history of diabetic foot pathology and an experimental group of 20 active drivers with type 2 diabetes, lower extremity neuropathy, and a history of diabetic foot pathology (ulceration, amputation, and/or Charcot neuroarthropathy) from an urban U.S. podiatric medical clinic. Neuropathic diabetic drivers without a history of specific foot pathology demonstrated an 11.11% slower mean brake response time (0.790 ± 0.223 versus 0.711 ± 0.135 second; p < .001), with abnormally delayed reactions occurring at a similar frequency (58.13% versus 48.13%; p = .0927). Both groups demonstrated a mean brake response time slower than a suggested threshold of 0.70 second. The results of the present investigation provide evidence that diabetic patients across a spectrum of lower extremity sensorimotor neuropathy and foot pathology demonstrate abnormal automobile brake responses and might be at risk of impaired driving function.
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