You may be traveling along a crowded highway beside a driver who is having difficulty staying in his lane.
You glimpse a young man who is hunched over the wheel in concentration. What is wrong with him? Why is he weaving?
The driver next to you may be experiencing post-concussion issues. Because he feels better overall, he may think that he has recovered from the head injury he recently suffered. However, the results of a UGA study indicate that the effects of a concussion may linger. Initial symptoms include headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, a feeling of confusion, anxiety, depression, memory issues and balance problems. If these symptoms seem to have disappeared, that young driver may feel his recovery is complete.
About the university study
An associate professor in the College of Education, Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia authored a study about the effects of a concussion on driving performance. The participants were 14 college-age men and women, each of whom had suffered a concussion. They all considered themselves recovered. For the UGA study, the professor asked the participants to get behind the wheel of a simulator to test their driving skills. The professor found that they drove erratically, sometimes swerving within their lanes in a manner similar to people who drive while intoxicated.
No rules for concussed drivers
The UGA professor noted that when an athlete suffers a concussion, he or she must submit to tests to determine how the brain is functioning before receiving approval to return to the field of play. No such tests exist to determine how well the athlete drives.
A concussion can be a precursor to a more serious condition such as a traumatic brain injury, but according to the UGA study, driving can present problems for those who believe they have recovered. Perhaps this is why the young driver next to you is weaving. Give him plenty of room and avoid a collision or you could end up with a head injury of your own.