Drivers with TBI are slower to anticipate traffic hazards
Unfortunately, the consequences of brain injury are far reaching, and the risk of further injury after an initial brain injury is a real risk that many of our clients face. Most clients find that the struggle through rehabilitation is hard enough, but as they are told that they can’t (or shouldn’t) go back to the activities that they used to enjoy, they become even more frustrated.
A recent study was conducted to examine the effect of traumatic brain injury (TBI) on drivers’ ability to anticipate traffic hazards. Slower anticipation of hazards has been associated with higher crash rates, but this driving skill has never been assessed after TBI.
The study found that participants with TBI were significantly slower to anticipate traffic hazards than controls. Within the TBI group, while hazard perception response times were significantly related to duration of post-traumatic amnesia, they were not significantly related to Glasgow Coma Scale scores. Not surprisingly participants with a complicated mild TBI (which means that the initial injury met the ‘mild’ criteria, but upon imaging damage was noted) were significantly faster in anticipating traffic conflicts than participants with moderate to severe TBI.
This is not to say that people with past TBI’s can never drive, but for many of our clients, driver training is an essential part of the recovery process. Supporting a return to activities is really important (one of the consequences of prohibiting a return to activities is depression and a decrease in functioning) but proper rehab and therapy is essential to make sure it is done safely.
To review this study see: “Assessment of drivers’ ability to anticipate traffic hazards after traumatic brain injury” from the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry with Practical Neurology (Sept 2010). By Megan Preece, Mark Horswill, and Gina Geffen.
Most clients find that the struggle through rehabilitation is hard enough, but as they are told that they can’t or shouldn’t go back to the activities that they used to enjoy, they become even more frustrated.