Effects of Recent Concussion on Simulated Driving Performance in Young Drivers
Gragg, Kelsey Rose
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The symptoms of a concussion include difficulties with balance, concentration, ocular-motor function and sensory integration. Concussions are common among young people given their exposure to sports and risky behavior. Driving safely can pose challenges for healthy teens and young drivers who are learning new skills. Young drivers are at greater risk of crash compared with experienced drivers. Drivers under 19 years of age are three times as likely to be in a fatal motor vehicle crash compared with drivers who were 20 years or older. The impact of recent concussion on driving ability has not been well studied. This prospective cohort study examined the impact of concussion on young drivers between 16 and 25 years of age. Case and control participants were evaluated by cognitive testing, survey response, and simulated driving. Case participants performed study tasks within two weeks of injury, and again after four to six weeks of recovery. Control participants were young drivers in the same age group who had no recent history of concussion, and performed the same tasks as case participants. At baseline, drivers with recent concussion had more difficulty engaging in a secondary task while driving at the baseline visit, but did not have the same difficulty in comparison to control participants at the follow-up drive. Significant differences were observed in performance using a tactile detection response task (TDRT) during simulated driving. The concussion group showed slightly riskier driving behavior, reaching higher speeds, rates of acceleration, and allowing less time-to-collision. The data from this study suggest the need for additional studies to examine the association between concussion and real-world driving risk.
- Civil engineering