Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago have been looking into the effects of pain medication on a person’s ability to drive. The results of their tests show that moderate amounts of pain medication, taken over a long period of time, do not impair a persons driving ability.
There are warnings on the labels of all Opioid pain relievers, which are narcotics like morphine, that tell patients not to drive or to operate heavy machinery while they are on the medication. Also anyone who drives while they are under the influence of these pain medications are usually subjected to the same laws as someone who is driving under the influence of alcohol. And they can face the same legal penalties.
The preliminary study that was just completed shows that there were virtually no difference in both the driving skills and reaction times of patients who were taking morphine and those who were not on any medications.
The study consisted of two groups of patients, 51 who were taking oral morphine and a control group of 49 who were not on any medication. Each one of the participants drove for about 12 minutes in a driving simulator that was able to measure any deviation from the center of the road, any weaving, accidents and reaction time to sudden events. They found that both groups had the same amount of weaving, 3.83 feet. The group that was taking the morphine had 5.33 accidents while the control group had 5.04. The reaction times in both groups were virtually the same also with the morphine group reacting in 0.67 seconds and the control group in 0.69 seconds.
The conclusion that they arrived at was that patients who are on long term pain medication may be able to develop a tolerance to the side effects of the types of medications that have the potential of affecting the patient’s ability to function and have a negative impact on their quality of life.
They hope in the future that the patients will be able to live and function like everyone else without having any limitations on what they can do.
They plan to continue the research to examine patients who are on other types of drugs.
This research model will be used in future studies to assess the effects of other types of anesthetics and pain medication.
The lead researcher on the project is Asokumar Buvanendran, M.D., associate professor, Department of Anesthesiology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois.
Source: Rush University Medical Center http://www.newswise.com/