A small study, which has recently been conducted, indicates that people who have recently suffered a concussion shouldn’t drive right away. They may not be able to make decisions fast enough to keep them and others safe.
According to researchers, a person with a concussion often has a slower reaction time. They score low on testing of thinking skills. The study indicates the possibility that more complicated driving skills take longer to come back after a concussion. They may not even be back to normal even after other symptoms have disappeared. These complicated skills include making fast decisions with minimal reaction time. They often include life and death situations, such as how to avoid hitting a vehicle that stopped in front of you suddenly.
There were 28 college students tested who had an average age of 20. Half of them had a concussion and half didn’t. They were involved in a simulated driving test as well as a mental acuity test that was computer-based. These tests took place 48 hours after all symptoms of a concussion disappeared. It was just over two weeks after their injuries.
The average difference of time was one second for those with concussions compared to those who didn’t have one. When the participants simulated being at a stoplight, it took them about 0.24 seconds longer to have a reaction, which could be converted into 16 feet for stopping. Another test had the image of a child running out in front of the vehicle. Those with a concussion took about 0.06 seconds longer to have a reaction, which converts into three feet for stopping. While it may not seem like much, it could mean the difference between not hitting the child and causing injury to them.
According to experts, people with a slowed reaction time are at a greater risk for a crash. Even split-second delays can make a difference in whether a crash is avoided. Overall, both those with and those without concussions had similar reaction times after symptoms had disappeared. However, some testing, such as with the stoplight and child running in front of the vehicle, showed significant differences.
Seriousness of Concussions
Statistics show that there are more than three million concussions in the US each year which result from sports injuries. When those who are injured get back behind the wheel, they may increase the risk that someone will be involved in a serious and potentially fatal accident.
Signs of a concussion include:
- Loss of memory
- Double vision
- Blurred vision
- Feeling fatigued or sluggish
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sensitivity to light
- Ringing in the ears
- Difficulty concentrating
A more severe concussion can cause changes in behavior. While most symptoms go away in a few days, they can linger for weeks or even months. Every concussion should be taken seriously, especially if the person has had one in the past. The person shouldn’t return to normal activity until cleared by a doctor, which could also include driving.
New Report Shows Automated Driving Systems Not Equal to Human Drivers
Automated systems have progressed quickly in the automotive industry. Vehicles can park and even drive without the assistance of drivers in some cases. However, a new study by AAA indicates that these systems still aren’t as reliable and safe as human drivers.
According to the report by AAA, the current automation systems are limited. They still require drivers to pay attention and not rely on them completely as they drive to prevent accidents. Researchers conducted tests of vehicle automation systems, including Ford CoPilot 360 and GM Super Cruise. These systems help the driver by performing steering, braking and acceleration at least partially without human intervention.
Research indicates that the systems aren’t always consistent in their performance. Some vehicles failed to stay within the designated lane and would occasionally steer too close to traffic coming from the other direction. Many of these systems have lane monitoring to keep vehicles in the correct lane.
The systems also come with automatic braking for emergencies or stopped traffic. AAA found that sometimes the vehicles may brake abruptly, not giving the vehicle behind them enough time to stop, resulting in a rear-end collision. These systems are also supposed to recognize obstacles to avoid accidents. However, some tests showed that they didn’t adjust direction to avoid a disabled vehicle that was in the roadway.
The manufacturers don’t claim perfection when it comes to the systems. In fact, they often include the shortcomings of the vehicle in the owners’ manuals. However, drivers often expect perfect performance when they drive. They rely solely on the automated systems rather than paying attention to the situation.
Based partly on the results of the study, AAA is asking manufacturers to improve these systems, often known as Level 2 systems, before they add them to new models. This isn’t the first test done of automated systems. The results are similar to other studies done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Consumer Reports has also seen similar results in evaluations of systems.
AAA used five vehicles for testing:
- 2019 Ford Edge
- 2019 BMW X7
- 2019 Cadillac XT6
- 2020 Subaru Outback
- 2020 Kia Telluride
All models feature active driving assistance. All but the Cadillac and Ford models were tested on the AAA closed test track. Those two models had limitations on location and speed. All five models were tested on a round trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco, which totaled 800 miles. They were driven on interstates as well as local highways.
All five models have problems with being able to stay in the correct lane. They fared well on the closed track, except for some left bias, which would put them closer to oncoming traffic. All five had issues on curving roads and hills.
While AAA admitted that some models worked better in various situations than others, none could be completely relied upon. The researchers recommend that drivers continue to pay attention and use the systems as assistance, but not to rely on them to do the job alone.
Eye Test May Detect Brain Injury
An eye test may possibly detect brain injury according to one study. This test uses a handheld device to look for changes in the size of pupils and is non-invasive.
The small study indicated that the quantitative pupillometry was able to detect indications of brain injury in high school football players who had shown no other signs of a concussion. The device looks for neurological effects from head impacts that are measurable. The players hadn’t been diagnosed with a brain injury.
The impacts which have no symptoms to accompany them may still be severe and can result in subtle changes in the brain. Doctors recommend that a player receive an evaluation for head injury or brain trauma even if they show no signs at all after a severe impact.
Normally, these head impact injuries are only able to be detected and diagnosed by using advance imaging as well as biomarkers. These methods are invasive as well as costly. They also take time. QP could provide a non-invasive way to assess the damage of these impacts. QP has become common in use to detect pupil changes for other reasons over the use of a penlight, which can be subjective. The device measures pupil size as well as reactivity. It takes only two minutes to use on a patient.
Traumatic Brain Injury
While the study involved 18 high school football players, athletes aren’t the only ones who could benefit from this new information. TBIs can happen in any situation where a person suffers a severe impact to the head. For instance, one of the most common injuries from a car crash is impact to the head.
Often, the person may not notice any issues right away. They may say they feel fine. They could be in shock or genuinely feel fine at the time. However, a quick test for potential brain trauma could provide information which would tell them of brain injury at the earliest point possible.
Many times, a person may not exhibit symptoms from a TBI for days, weeks or even months after the accident. Even if they do show signs, they may not associate them with the trauma. They may suffer from memory loss, fatigue, changes in personality or behavior.
Concussions are commonly labeled as mild, moderate or severe. Signs of one include the following:
- Double vision
- Blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Problems with balance
- Sensitive to light or sounds
To treat a concussion, the doctor will usually prescribe rest and OTC pain medication. They will usually restrict activities for a period of time. For severe concussions, surgery may be necessary.
Because of the seriousness of brain injury, it’s important to get checked out any time you suffer from a hit to the head. Even if you feel fine, you could have suffered damage to the brain. It takes time for the brain to heal, but it’s also critical that you avoid risk of another head injury during that time. Multiple traumas increase the risk of long-term damage.
Recovering from a Concussion
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury, and it can occur anytime a person hits their head on something. It’s one of the most common injuries in a car accident. According to an article in Medical News Today, most people recover from a concussion in about a month.
What is a Concussion?
A person can get a concussion when the head is hit with direct force, which causes damage to the brain. In a car accident, it most often happens if the person’s head hits the dashboard or other object in the vehicle. Concussions range from mild to severe, but even mild ones may require medical attention.
Sometimes, there are no symptoms with a concussion, and the person isn’t even aware they’ve had one. In other cases, the symptoms can last for several weeks. According to information from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 2.87 million ER visits, hospital stays and deaths were attributed to traumatic brain injuries in 2014.
Symptoms of a concussion include the following:
- Issues with vision
- Problems with balance
- Changes in mood
- Difficulty with concentration and thinking
- More sensitivity to light and sounds
- Problems sleeping
Sometimes concussion symptoms don’t show up right away. Some may be noticeable after the injury while others may take days or even weeks to begin.
In the first two to three days after a concussion, the person should spend most of their time resting. Even if they feel normal, they should cut back on activities. Ideally, they won’t be alone for the first 48 hours. After the initial period, they should return to normal activities slowly.
A doctor will let them know when they are ready to drive, go back to work, resume exercise or physical activities and drink alcohol.
One factor that will determine how long it will take to recover from a concussion is how severe it was. A person with a history of concussions may also take longer to heal or if they have other pre-existing neurological issues. People who are older will generally take longer to heal of any medical issue, including a concussion.
Rest is the best medicine for a concussion. Eating healthy and not doing strenuous activities will also help. It is important to seek medical treatment after a head injury, no matter how minor it may seem. You shouldn’t treat it on your own because you don’t know how much damage there might be.
If a person takes longer than six weeks to recover, they may have what is known as post-concussion syndrome. It’s important to be careful and not get another concussion while this one is healing. Traumatic brain injury is a serious condition and should never be taken lightly. Even though concussions are common, they shouldn’t be ignored. Getting medical treatment right away is the best option to determine how serious the TBI is and if there are any long-term effects. With the right treatment plan, it’s likely that the person will make a full recover from a concussion.
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