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Driving and Parkinson's: Balancing Independence and Safety

Originally presented on Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Margaret O’Connor, Ph.D., A.B.P.P., and Lissa Robins Kapust, L.I.C.S.W.

How can Parkinson’s symptoms affect the ability to drive?  How can you and your loved ones maximize your safety and decide when it is time to give up the keys?  Find the answers to these questions by joining us – PDF and faculty members Margaret O’Connor, Ph.D., A.B.P.P., and Lissa Robins Kapust, L.I.C.S.W., of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA –  for a one-hour seminar.

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Goals for Participants:

  • Understand the complex activities critical for safe driving with Parkinson’s
  • Learn how the motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s can affect driving proficiency
  • Understand the value of objective, on-road driving assessments and the key components of a driving history
  • Explore strategies to talk about driving concerns while minimizing potential conflicts between family members
  • Understand the role of the health provider and potential conflicts in the doctor/patient relationship
  • Learn ways that the Parkinson’s driver can maximize safety
  • Learn how to manage emotional well-being and independence for the person who can no longer drive

Faculty:

Margaret O’Connor, Ph.D. Lissa Robins Kapust, L.I.C.S.W.

Margaret O’Connor, Ph.D., A.B.P.P., and Lissa Robins Kapust, L.I.C.S.W.

Margaret O'Connor Ph.D., A.B.P.P., is Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and the Director of Neuropsychology in the Division of Behavioral Neurology and Center for Cognitive Neurology, located in Boston MA.

Dr. O’Connor has been board certified in the field of clinical neuropsychology since 1999.  Her research expertise is in the field of memory disorders and dementia.  She has published over 55 scientific articles on these subjects and she has been the principal investigator on several grants, including several NARSAD awards.  Along with Ms. Kapust, Dr. O’Connor received a grant from the National Parkinson Foundation to produce a film, “Driving with Parkinson’s: The Crossroads of Independence and Safety,” to educate people with Parkinson’s, families and health care providers about the issues relevant to driving safety and Parkinson’s disease. 

Dr. O’Connor’s teaching activities include a weekly neuropsychology seminar for graduate and post doctoral students and participation in hospital based and medical school courses. Over the past 20 years Dr. O’Connor has mentored over 40 pre- and post-doctoral neuropsychology trainees.  She is an active member of the Alzheimer’s Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee and a board examiner for the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology, in which capacity she evaluates the clinical skills of psychologists from across the country.

She received her undergraduate degree from Duke University, her doctorate in clinical psychology from Boston University, and her clinical internship training at Brown University Medical School.

Lissa Kapust, L.I.C.S.W.

Lissa Kapust, L.I.C.S.W., is an Associate in Neurology at Harvard Medical School and the Program Services Coordinator for the Parkinson's Disease Center of Excellence at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA.  She was one of the founding members of the Cognitive Neurology Unit in 1978.

Ms. Kapust has had many professional accomplishments focused on the emotional aspects of living with neurological illness.  She has had extensive experience in clinical work with people living with neurological diseases and their caregivers. She has published numerous scholarly articles, participated in research and has developed academic and patient-centered programs.

Ms. Kapust runs a Post-Master’s Social Work Cognitive Neurology Fellowship Program.  She created “DriveWise”, a nationally recognized, hospital-based program to evaluate driving safety for individuals with underlying medical problems.  Over the past 15 years, “DriveWise” has evaluated over 700 individuals and through this program she has lectured extensively to professional and lay groups about the complicated issues of driving safety and independence. 

Along with Dr. O’Connor, Ms. Kapust received a grant from the National Parkinson Foundation to produce a film, “Driving with Parkinson’s: The Crossroads of Independence and Safety,” to educate people with Parkinson’s, families and health care providers about the issues relevant to driving safety and Parkinson’s disease.  They are currently funded to produce an educational video on the topic of Asperger’s Disease and driving safety.


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