NEW HAVEN, Conn. (KABC) -- Every state has different requirements when it comes to driving with epilepsy.
Here in California, patients must be seizure-free for a specific period of time and submit a doctor's evaluation. But now, researchers at Yale are using artificial intelligence to help more accurately assess a patient's safety behind the wheel.
The danger of having a seizure while driving is that when driving avoiding distractions is critical. A brief interval of inattention can cost lives.
"Even a momentary lapse for a few seconds in attention can be very dangerous when you're on the road," said Dr. Hal Blumenfeld, a neuroscientist with Yale School of Medicine.
For the 3 million Americans with epilepsy, medication or deep brain stimulation may control the severity of seizures. But sometimes brief periods of abnormal brain activity are hard to detect.
"We have a real challenge when people don't think they're having these episodes anymore," Dr. Blumenfeld said.
Those episodes are called spike wave discharges.
Dr. Blumenfeld and his colleagues gathered information from a large group of patients who were tested with a brain test known as E-E-G, or an Electroencephalography, during a spike wave discharge to see if they could respond normally.
Then researchers fed that information into a computer.
"Basically, we have to teach it to tell the difference between brainwave activity that's safe and brainwave activity that's not safe for driving and for responding," Blumenfeld explained.
Right now, doctors use behavioral testing to determine if a patient can drive. Using AI, or artificial intelligence technology, Dr. Blumenfeld says 65% of patients cleared through medical evaluations would not be able to drive under the AI test.
Researchers say AI testing may be a more accurate way to predict driver safety.
Dr. Blumenfeld says more studies, with information from an even larger number of patients would fine tune the artificial intelligence, making it even more accurate.
He says EEG testing can be done in a doctor's office, which would also make it easily accessible for patients.