Driving may be such an integral part of your life that you have a hard time imagining having to give it up as you recover from a brain injury. Life does not stay on hold, so as soon as you feel fine after an accident of any sort, you should be able to drive again, right?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. When brain damage, such as a concussion, is involved, the impact it has on your body lasts much longer than the symptoms that come with an injury. A study from the University of Georgia reveals why you should wait for doctor approval before getting behind the wheel again in New York after a concussion.

What the study found

University researchers had college students who recently suffered a concussion use a driving simulator. The students reported feeling better and not experiencing symptoms anymore, but their driving showed that the mental effects of the injury were still present. The students’ driving was erratic, like that of a drunk driver.

Most studies have looked at the consequences of brain damage for athletes, who have to undergo strict testing before they can play sports again. However, this study was the first to examine drivers. In fact, many athletes who do not have permission to play yet are already back on the road right after the incident.

Implications of the study

This study highlighted the severity of trauma to the brain even once patients appear to be back to normal. Allowing them to operate a vehicle too soon puts them at risk for another accident, leading to another injury and possibly hurting other motorists, pedestrians or cyclists.

The next step is to determine the point when erratic driving goes away and the ability to drive safely returns. Until then, you should seek your medical provider’s advice on when to hit the road again. At the very least, wait until symptoms disappear, but even then, you may want to wait a little longer to be safe.