9 October 2012

Head-Injured Drivers Pose Safety Risk. Part 2

Posted by Jody under: Mental Health .

About one-third of those still driving had problems staying awake and dizzy spells, and one-quarter had visual problems, decreased concentration and attention, and impaired safety judgment.

More than half of those returning to driving had a severe head injury with prolonged loss of consciousness. Yet only 16 percent were told not to drive. Three continued to drive although their doctors told them not to, and two kept driving even after their licences were revoked.

“Most of the drivers who had returned to driving did not receive any formal assessment of their suitability to resume driving,” says study author Carol A. Hawley, Ph.D., a researcher at the Centre for Health Services Studies at the University of Warwick, Coventry, UK. “The decision to return to driving was usually made by the patient himself.”

After head injury, doctors should routinely evaluate patients for their ability to drive. Patients with physical or mental problems like those described above should be counseled not to drive, Hawley explains, at least not until they are re-evaluated after further rehabilitation and recovery.

“Although most of the patients with head injury were sensible and kept initial journeys short, using familiar routes, there is the potential for future road accidents,” Hawley says. “Some were putting themselves and others at risk due to their psychological, emotional, and mental problems.”

Psychological problems like personality change and loss of insight may be even more dangerous than physical handicaps, as the patient is often unaware of them and therefore unable to compensate.

“As these patients superficially appear normal, their problems often remain hidden and unknown to the service providers,” says Shoumitro Deb, M.D., a consultant neuropsychiatrist at the University of Wales College of Medicine in Cardiff, UK. “Without specialist assessments, these problems will remain undetected and untreated.”

A complete first-aid kit will help you reply quickly to common emergencies. Every person must include a first aid kit in the workplace, at home, in the car.

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