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Warning that concussion affects driving months later

By Tim Sandle     Feb 7, 2017 in Health
Atlanta - After a person experiences mild concussion the effects slowly ebb away and the affected person returns to their normal routine. Things may not completely go back to normal, however, and medics have issues a new warning about driving.
University of Georgia researchers have found, based on interviews and practical tests with those who have suffered concussion, that each of the affected people remained likely to drive erratically. This was shown clearly when those who had suffered concussion used a driving simulator. The effects were so apparent that some people drove as if they were under the influence of alcohol.
In a research statement, lead scientist Professor Julianne Schmidt noted: “They had less vehicle control while they were doing the driving simulation, and they swerved more within the lane. This is a pretty large indicator of motor vehicle accident risk, and this is at a time point when they are considered recovered.”
The study was small (given the difficulties in tracking down those who had suffered concussion and were willing to take part in a psychological study). In all, 14 college-age participants took part. The tests were conducted within 48 hours of the concussion event. Importantly, the tests were run after the participants reported they were no longer feeling the effects of their concussion.
What interested the researchers was the world of sport, especially physical contact sports. When a player suffers with concussion they must, in a properly regulated industry, undergo a series of tests before they return to sports field. Driving competency is not included among these tests.
The reason this is important is that many athletes will drive home after they have seemingly recovered from concussion (including when they have been assessed against the standard array of sports tests). The new research shows this a bad idea.
With the driving concern established, the researchers plan to work out at what stage following a concussion event do driving abilities improve.
The new research has been published in the Journal of Neurotrauma. The research paper is titled “Driving after Concussion: Is It Safe To Drive after Symptoms Resolve?”
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