Concussions have been in the news lately. In terms of sports safety, from concerns regarding professional football players to pee-wee leagues and even soccer, head and brain injuries are garnering more attention and focus. But it’s clear that athletes aren’t the only ones at risk for concussions–you can hit your head while walking down the street and sustain a mild traumatic brain injury without ever losing consciousness.
Most people who have had a concussion would agree that their motor functions are impaired. Many delay getting behind the wheel of a car or on a bike while still experiencing concussion symptoms. But at which point is it okay to get back on the road?
How soon is too soon to return?
Researchers at the University of Georgia attempted to determine when individuals that were diagnosed with concussion should return to driving. In a study involving fourteen individuals diagnosed with a concussion and fourteen who were not, researchers asked participants to participate in a driving simulation within 48 hours after no longer experiencing the effects of a concussion.
Regarding participants previously diagnosed with a concussion, researchers found that they more frequently veered into other lane and they more frequently shifted their position within their lane.
In total, those asymptomatic concussed participants showed far pooper vehicle control, particularly around curses.
While this research isn’t the end all be all, it does suggest that returning to driving–or riding–shortly after becoming asymptomatic may not be the safest option.
What this means for riders
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that is typically resolved within 7 days. However, if this research is correct, riders who have experienced recent head trauma should abstain from taking out the bike for longer than may appear necessary. Even if you’re driving in a safe manner, the slowed reaction time may mean the difference between safely getting to your destination and getting into a potentially serious accident.