Anybody considering slipping behind the wheel of a car after a head damage ought to assume twice. Driving after a concussion or different traumatic brain injury (TBI) can pose very critical dangers.
There’s no query that these mind accidents can result in the impairment of judgment, coordination and give attention to the street. In response to a 2020 Pediatric High quality and Security report, the most common medical reasons for restricting driving after a concussion were vestibular or ocular dysfunctions.
As a result of every brain injury is exclusive and therapeutic occasions fluctuate, it’s crucial to unfold consciousness in regards to the dangers of driving with a concussion. From recognizing lingering signs to taking correct precautions, we’re answering your necessary questions surrounding brain injury and driving.
Is Driving with a Concussion Secure?
Within the first 24 to 48 hours after a concussion or TBI, driving ought to be averted to guard your self and others on the street. “Let another person do the driving, and let your mind relaxation,” says Dr. Vincent Schaller, M.D., DABFM, CIC, founder and medical director of the Mid-Atlantic Concussion (MAC) Alliance.
The flexibility to make crucial, split-second selections is significant for any driver to decrease the danger of accidents. Now think about including the results of a concussion or lingering persistent post-concussion symptoms (PPCS). Even after signs start to decrease, sufferers can nonetheless expertise issues, together with imaginative and prescient issues, steadiness points, nausea or slowed response occasions whereas driving.
When Can I Resume Driving After a Concussion?
Resuming regular driving actions after a concussion is a gradual course of and one which ought to be evaluated on a case-by-case foundation, however not driving for the primary day or two is suggested. If concussion signs are extreme instantly after your brain injury, you might be requested to abstain from driving for as much as one week. Consulting along with your doctor or concussion specialist earlier than getting again into the motive force’s seat is strongly suggested in any scenario.
Easing Again Into the Driver’s Seat
Dr. Schaller asks his sufferers to chorus from driving or using in a shifting car for greater than half-hour a day, post-concussion. “If a affected person is experiencing dizziness, complications, or mild sensitivity, they should restrict their driving to quick distances,” he says. As well as, he recommends they keep away from lengthy commutes by working remotely or finding out from residence. “As signs and deficits start to indicate enchancment, together with steadiness, imaginative and prescient, and cognitive processes, sufferers can start to regularly enhance using or driving occasions.”
“Right now we now have technologies that provide objective brain health screenings. There isn’t a must guess if the time is true to return to driving after a concussion or different TBI,” says Dr. Schaller.
Teen Drivers and Concussions
Whereas concussion signs can have an effect on many actions and every day routines of youngsters, driving carries important dangers. In response to one survey of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, over 30% of adlescent sufferers reported they didn’t obtain driving directions from their healthcare suppliers. The truth is, roughly 51% of physicians admitted they didn’t routinely advise on the topic.
In 2020, researchers from the Kids’s Hospital of Philadelphia reviewed studies on adolescents with concussions and driving and located that youngsters with concussions may be affected by visible, cognitive, motor and vestibular signs that affect their capacity to drive. They discovered that whereas the Facilities for Illness Management (CDC) and the American Medical Society for Sports activities Medication agreed that adolescents ought to be recommended on how one can safely return to driving after a concussion, there’s a lack of standardized tips to assist sufferers and their households.
“Way more is on the market about return-to-play and return-to-learn post-concussion, however not return-to-drive,” says Dr. Schaller. “And never only for adolescents, however for adults as properly.”
Discuss to Your Teen
In an effort to create change, practices to enhance affected person and father or mother training, suggestions, and communication on driving security tips for teenagers with concussions are essential. Sustaining an open dialogue along with your teen driver is strongly inspired, stressing well being and security issues whereas serving to them monitor and report persistent signs, comparable to:
- Sleep points
- Uncharacteristic eye actions
- Imaginative and prescient troubles
- Complications or migraines
- Mind fog
These are only a few indicators that your teen driver will not be able to be behind the wheel and could also be at better threat if driving with a concussion.
Sports activities-related concussions are sometimes a priority of fogeys with teen drivers. Prolonged recovery time in sports concussions alone has change into extra evident by analysis. It’s important that well being practitioners, coaches, and oldsters are extra diligent about recognizing post-concussion syndrome (PCS) earlier than handing over the keys.
Recognizing Signs of Concussion Earlier than Driving
Widespread signs of concussion might embody, however aren’t restricted to:
- Problem with reminiscence or focus
- Persistent complications or migraines
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Sleep disruptions
- Anxiousness or sudden modifications in psychological well being
Since concussions can disrupt steadiness and spatial orientation, the motion of a automobile might overstimulate and overwhelm the injured mind’s vestibular enter. Accelerating, decelerating, and frequent turning could cause complications, nausea and migraines in post-concussion sufferers. Even the constant visible enter by objects passing by the window can have an effect on an injured mind and trigger elevated signs.
Photophobia: Night time Driving and Concussions
Night time driving is a specific concern for concussion or TBI sufferers. The oncoming headlights pose an actual downside when the affected person has photophobia. This sensitivity to brilliant lights could cause visible pressure and complications. As well as, many sufferers who’re using as passengers will typically hold their focus contained in the automobile or might shut their eyes to keep away from visible stimulus from outdoors distractions.
“Out-of-car distractions are an enormous downside for drivers and passengers with post-concussion syndrome or TBI, because the visible stimulus bombards the injured mind,” Dr. Schaller factors out. This overstimulation can’t be dealt with properly as a result of a “damaged filter” brought on by bruising of the mind, and probably torn nerve fibers.
Easy methods to Consider Widespread Driving-Particular Signs
Correct concussion recognition and evaluation are key to improved outcomes. Dr. Schaller notes that within the pressing care and emergency room, head damage sufferers might not exhibit concussion signs instantly, earlier than they get again behind the wheel within the aftermath of an accident. So they could not get the recommendation to not drive from the pressing care or ER supplier.
After the pressing care or ER go to, a concussion specialist can assist assess, deal with and monitor sufferers by a restoration program designed round their particular person case—both within the workplace or by way of telemedicine.
The commonest driving-specific neuropsychological deficits after a concussion embody:
- Slower response time
- Lowered consideration span
- Decreased govt perform
Testing utilizing the VOMS examination is a typical, low-tech examination for brain injury. Processing and response occasions may be evaluated through the use of the neuro-cognitive exams, comparable to ImPACT and Creyos (previously Cambridge Mind Sciences). Goal vestibular screenings utilizing applied sciences comparable to BrainScope, RightEye and EyeGuide could also be used as properly. Steadiness testing utilizing Sway Balance System, and in some instances Brain SPECT Scan technology can be utilized as properly.
At Mid-Atlantic Concussion Alliance, our community of licensed medical professionals and group (together with MAC associates in bodily remedy, occupational remedy and athletic coaching), are dedicated to your well being. Offering a analysis, therapy, and long-term concussion and TBI care is our precedence. For extra info on concussions and driving, or to find a MAC associate close to you, contact us at the moment.
—Reporting by Lisa Mason-Drake