American Medical Society for Sports Medicine
For Immediate Release May 12, 2017

Research Examines Physician Confidence in Concussed Athletes’ Fitness to Drive

San Diego, CA – Andrew Albano, Jr., DO presented research Thursday, May 11 at the 26th Annual Meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine in San Diego, CA.

The coverage of concussion in sports within the medical literature as well as in mainstream media continues to rise, and research by Dr. Andrew W. Albano, Jr. and his colleagues from the University Of South Carolina School Of Medicine Greenville attempts to answer some of the numerous remaining questions surrounding the management of concussion in sport.

Currently, there are limited resources guiding clinical decision-making to determine a concussed athlete’s eligibility to return to driving. Their research evaluated physician confidence in determining a concussed athlete’s ability to safely resume operation of a motor vehicle.

A survey examined clinician perception of concussed athletes’ readiness to drive. Among the 47 percent of clinicians who evaluated the readiness to drive in concussed athletes, only eight percent felt confident in their decision.

“With regard to correlating fitness to drive and the RTP staging, results were varied, ranging through each of the 6 stages,” Dr. Albano said. “Despite reported familiarity with the RTP protocols in the management of concussed athletes, limited confidence was found amongst physicians when determining an athlete’s fitness to drive.”

Surveyed clinicians used neurocognitive testing to help facilitate the decision to safely return a concussed athlete to driving less than one third of the time. Given the uncertainty among surveyed physicians regarding assessing the readiness to drive, neuropsychological testing may offer added objective value in this situation. Evaluation of memory, cognitive processing speed and reaction time using neurocognitive tests, along with clinical judgement, may boost physician confidence in returning a concussed athlete to play, as well as driving.

The limited data surrounding readiness to drive in concussed individuals reflects the lack of confidence among physicians faced with this scenario. Future research is needed to delineate the reasons why clinicians are uncomfortable determining readiness to drive and what tools can assist in fostering confidence. A universal protocol guiding the safe return to driving in concussed athletes would be a valuable tool when caring for these patients. As concussion in sport research continues to flourish, studies such as Dr. Albano’s may help address existing concerns among clinicians, and hopefully lead to future practical clinical applications.

With more than 1,800 sports medicine physicians attending from throughout the United States and around the world, the 2017 Annual Meeting explores current decisions, controversies as well as best practices related to Medicine in Motion that defines the clinical practice of sports medicine.

About the AMSSM Annual Meeting: The conference features lectures and research addressing the most challenging topics in sports medicine today including overhead athlete care, military medicine, sports performance training, youth sports, professional athlete care, leg pain, mental health in athletes, current sports medicine topics and much more.

About the AMSSM: AMSSM is a multi-disciplinary organization of more than 3,300 sports medicine physicians dedicated to education, research, advocacy and the care of athletes of all ages. The majority of AMSSM members are primary care physicians with fellowship training and added qualification in sports medicine who then combine their practice of sports medicine with their primary specialty. AMSSM includes members who specialize solely in non-surgical sports medicine and serve as team physicians at the youth level, NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA, MLS and NHL, as well as with Olympic teams. By nature of their training and experience, sports medicine physicians are ideally suited to provide comprehensive medical care for athletes, sports teams or active individuals who are simply looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

NOTE: For more information, please contact the AMSSM, 4000 W. 114th St., Suite 100, Leawood, KS 66211, (913) 327-1415.

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4000 W. 114th Street, Suite 100
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Phone: 913.327.1415

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