One of the most defining elements of an American's perception of independence
is driving. And yet, when a person suffers from traumatic brain injury,
the decision (by both patient and family) to return to driving is a difficult
and complex one. Motor and cognitive challenges create a concern for family
members, but the independence and freedom that it represents can be a
boost to rehabilitation efforts.
In a recent study using a large database of moderate and severe traumatic
brain injury survivors, researchers found the following:
- One year after injury, only 10% of patients had returned to driving. By
five years, this number had increased to more than 53%.
- Those with less severe injuries returned to driving more quickly than those
with more severe injuries (usually within a year).
- Race, employment, education, and residence were also factors in whether
or not a patient returned to driving, and when. This suggests that socio-economic
factors could influence return to driving.
- Surprisingly, chemically paralyzed patients (ie, an induced coma) returned
to driving more quickly and at a higher rate than other patients.
Although the variables are complex, the decision to return to driving is
often made-even by survivors of severe traumatic brain injury.
Novack TA, Labbe D, Grote M, et al. Return to driving within 5 years of
moderate-severe traumatic brain injury.
Brain Injury. (March 2010).