American Medical Society for Sports Medicine
For Immediate Release Apr 26, 2018

Study Shows the Negative Effects of Concussions for Teenage Drivers

John Lucas, MD presented a research abstract about how driving reaction times are negatively impacted by concussions at the 27th Annual Meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

Concussions are a common injury among young adults, and an ever-increasing amount of research has been devoted to these injuries, especially their role in sports. But there are limited guidelines regarding driving for physicians who treat concussions.

In an effort to explore this area further, Dr. Lucas set up a clinical driving simulator to examine the reaction times of young adults who experienced symptoms of a concussion compared to non-concussed subjects.

“To date, much of the attention regarding post-concussion care has revolved around return-to-play and return-to-learn with little attention to driving with concussion,” Dr. Lucas said. “With that said, the most common cause of death in teens and NCAA athletes are motor vehicle crashes. Our research team recently published a survey of sports medicine physicians that showed 83 percent of physicians feel that concussion put individuals at a greater risk of a motor vehicle crash yet fewer than half routinely counsel their patients about driving.

“Clearly there is a gap between physician knowledge and physician practice. The aim of this study is evaluate the impact of concussion on key driving tasks.”

Participants completed three tasks measuring reaction times: a brake reaction timer, a steering reaction timer and a combined brake/steering reaction timer. Data from 26 young, healthy volunteers were compared to nine patients with a diagnosed concussion, and all participants held a valid restricted or US driver’s license.

Patients with concussions had dramatically slower reaction times on all three tasks: a brake reaction timer, a steering reaction timer and a combined brake/steering reaction timer.

Data from this pilot study suggest patients with concussions have slower reaction times than healthy peers. These findings suggest further research is needed to understand the complexities of the impact of concussions on driving performance in order to provide physicians guidance in the future.

“This study is the first to look at the acute effects of concussion on driving,” Dr. Lucas said. “Certainly the results should prompt concern regarding driving with concussion. Larger studies will be needed to investigate the effects of concussion on driving. For now, I hope this study opens the eyes of practitioners around the world to the potential dangers of driving with concussion.”

About the AMSSM Annual Meeting: The 2018 conference brings more than 2,000 sports medicine physicians together from throughout the United States and around the world. The meeting theme is REACH: Reaching Up, Reaching Out, Reaching Ahead and explores the many ways AMSSM is leading the charge and shaping the future of sports medicine. 

About the AMSSM: AMSSM is a multi-disciplinary organization of more than 3,600 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 and Paralympic 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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