Georgia is home to some of the finest research institutions in the country. We recently learned that the University of Georgia is taking on an important and groundbreaking study concerning how concussions might impact driving capability. Considered to be the first study of its kind, researchers will be evaluating the cognitive and driving ability functions of athletes who have suffered a concussion. A concussion can also occur when someone slips and falls or is involved in a motor vehicle crash including a truck crash concussion, motorcycle concussion or car wreck concussion. The results of this study will be very helpful in determining when someone can safely return to driving after suffering this type of injury.
Concussions can cause a temporary loss of normal brain function including an alternation in the level of consciousness that a person would normally have. These injuries can cause cognitive impairment, reaction time, memory loss, balance problems and many other impairments that can take time to regain. The cumulative effect of concussions can be a serious issue, as we have seen with NFL players and long-term brain function.
Specifically, the question as to when someone who has suffered a concussion is really ready to get behind the wheel is an important and yet unanswered question. The concern is that someone who has suffered a concussion may have impairment with driving due to the “neuropsychological effects” a concussion can cause. Although the study is not a large one, the data recovered from the study could be extremely important. The data collection has already begun with a lab set-up that replicates driving conditions that include everything from passing another vehicle, to stopping a vehicle properly, to avoiding a sudden situation such as an unexpected intrusion into the street. The test subjects will be checked for cognition and driving skill after a concussion that will help determine when someone is ready to return to driving.