Changes in Driving Behaviors After Concussion in Adolescents

Abstract [from journal]

Purpose: Although return to learn, exercise, and sports have evidence-based guidelines, there is limited research investigating return to driving after concussion. The purpose was to characterize and compare adolescent driving behaviors after concussion.

Methods: Using the Minds Matter Concussion Registry, we queried data of adolescents, aged 16-19 years, diagnosed with a concussion ≤28 days of injury and seen between January 31, 2017 and August 31, 2018 at the specialty care concussion program. Outcomes included patient report of: changes postinjury driving behaviors; Post-Concussion Symptom Inventory; return to school, and exercise and sports. Provider recommendations for return to school after initial clinical assessment were also examined. Descriptive statistics, analysis of covariance, and chi-square tests were performed.

Results: Of the 332 drivers (46.1% female; mean age 17.5 years, 95% confidence interval [CI], 17.4-17.6), 46.9% had returned to driving since injury. Of those who returned to driving, 58.9% reported "Driving with No Changes." The Post-Concussion Symptom Inventory score was higher among "Driving with Changes" (48.7, 95% CI: 42.2-55.2) than "Driving with No Changes" (27.4, 95% CI: 22.3-32.5, p < .01) and "Has Not Driven Since Injury" (42.3, 95% CI: 38.4-46.3, p < .01). Among the 332 drivers, few had returned to exercise (15.4%) or organized sports (6.0%). Of those in school (n = 291), only 8.9% were provider recommended to return to full school days after clinical assessment.

Conclusion: Many adolescents continued to drive after concussion, despite not yet having returned to exercise or sport. Nine of 10 were advised to return to school with accommodations to begin a gradual increase in cognitive activity, suggesting a gradual increase in driving may be justified.