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Driving can be risky for post-concussion motorists

You probably know medical personnel closely watch and give clearance to athletes who sustain concussions before they can resume playing their sport.

What about people who drive cars after recovering from a concussion? As a university study shows, getting right back onto the road might not be such a good idea.

Concussion results

The symptoms of a concussion may not appear immediately. For example, after a minor car accident, you might feel a bit shaky but otherwise fine. However, within the next several hours or days, you may begin experiencing headaches, nausea, ringing in the ears or a feeling of confusion. There may be sensitivity to light, personality changes or even unusual issues with taste or smell. However, once the symptoms are gone, can you resume a normal activity such as driving a car?

About the study

The study, the first of its kind, came from University of Georgia researchers who published the findings in 2017. The participants were 14 college-age drivers who were within 48 hours of feeling no further effects from the concussions they had suffered. The object was to find out how a concussion affects driving skills.

What happened

The post-concussion participants used a driving simulator for testing purposes. Even though all of them felt that they were recovered, they exhibited less than adequate vehicle control and tended to swerve within their lanes. Julianne Schmidt, the UGA associate professor who authored the study, observed that the results of the driving test constituted “a pretty large indicator of motor vehicle accident risk.” She explained that to find out how well a brain is functioning, an athlete who is recovering from concussion must pass a series of tests before receiving permission to continue playing. However, there are currently no such tests to determine the extent of the athlete’s driving skills.

A life-changing event

Injuries suffered in a vehicle accident can be devastating. They can alter your life completely, an outcome that will likely have a domino effect on those you love. As the findings of the university study show, people who believe they are completely recovered from concussions should think carefully before getting behind the wheel of a car.

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