Many kids don’t make it out of the teen years without suffering at least one concussion. If they’re involved in sports, they may suffer multiple concussions. Since the potential dangers of concussions are more widely recognized than previously, they’re also more likely to be diagnosed.
That’s good news. However, it also means that your teen may get medical directions to take it easy, limit screen time and stay home from school for a time, even if they feel fine.
Slower reaction times and more
Teens should also take some time away from driving, even after they no longer notice any concussion symptoms, like headaches or dizziness. In fact, one study of college students compared the performance on a driving simulator of those who had suffered a concussion with those who hadn’t.
Those with concussions were tested two days after they reported that they were no longer symptomatic. Researchers found that their reaction times to things like red lights and children running in front of their “car” were .03 seconds slower than those without concussions. That may seem like nothing, but a vehicle can easily move three feet in that time, and “that could mean the difference between life and death”, according to one concussion expert.
Concussions can also affect decision-making ability, judgment, attention and physical coordination. These, of course, are all necessary for safe driving. Some symptoms that seem to have subsided can be triggered by things like headlights or honking.
Certainly, it’s not safe for drivers of any age to get behind the wheel too soon after a concussion. However, teen drivers who don’t have a lot of experience (and who may be the most impatient to start driving again) can be at particular risk – and can put others at risk.
As a parent, it’s crucial not to let your child drive on their own until you’re as certain as you can be that their skills aren’t still impaired. You probably want to start them out slowly with you in the front passenger seat. You may even want to have a professional driving instructor take them out and evaluate them.
If your teen’s concussion was the result of someone else’s actions or negligence and you’re seeking compensation, make sure you factor in any added costs associated with your child’s recovery time. Don’t settle with an insurance company until you know the full extent of the expenses and damages.