Study: Symptom-free concussion patients present elevated accident risk

One of the most significant developments to take place in sports over the last several years didn't play out on the field, the court or the rink, but rather in research labs and doctor's offices.

Specifically, we've seen tremendous progress made in the area of concussion awareness, such that not only are more players and coaches aware of the hidden dangers, but more leagues are introducing concussion-related protocol dictating that injured players can't return to practice or games until symptoms are gone and tests passed.

As welcome as this development has certainly been, there have long been concerns among scientists as to the lasting impact of concussions, meaning the long-term effects they have on brain functioning even after symptoms abate.

Interestingly enough, a recently released study by researchers at the University of Georgia would seem to validate these concerns, determining that a concussion seriously affects a person's ability to operate a motor vehicle safely -- even after their symptoms have disappeared.

As part of the study, which was published in the most recent edition of the Journal of Neurotrauma, the researchers placed 14 college-aged people, all of whom had suffered a concussion, but were within 48 hours of being symptom-free, behind the wheel of a driving simulator.

Somewhat shockingly, they found that the conduct of these drivers who were otherwise thought to have recovered presented a "large indicator of motor vehicle accident risk" and was akin to that of an intoxicated driver.

These results, they argued, suggest that anyone who suffers a concussion -- athlete or non-athlete -- should, at the very least, be restricted from driving until their symptoms have disappeared, and, ideally, until a short time after this occurs.

This is a truly fascinating study. Here's hoping it leads to additional research, and a new dialogue about concussions and road safety.

Those who have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a car crash caused by the reckless actions of another should seriously consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can answer their questions and pursue the necessary action.

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