Driving Following A Brain Injury

What Is A Brain Injury?

Housed inside the hard protective casing of the skull, the brain itself is a soft tissue structure which can be damaged as a result of a severe impact to the skull.  A brain injury can occur as a result of accident, such as a fall, during contact sports, or it may be the result of deliberate trauma.

The brain is responsible for controlling all bodily functions, therefore direct injury can have serious consequences, affecting our ability to perform a number of functions, including driving. In some cases, brain injuries can be fatal.

As with any other type of injury, damage to the brain may vary in intensity and severity. Symptoms of a severe head injury include the following:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Concussion
  • Fits & Seizures
  • Memory loss
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Blood or clear fluid coming out of the nose
  • Difficulties with coordination and walking
  • Issues with the senses/double vision/hearing loss

A minor head injury can leave the individual feeling somewhat dazed; they may also experience other symptoms such as headaches and feelings of nausea, which can last up to 2 weeks following the initial injury.

What Does The Law Say?

Following a brain injury, a period of non-driving will be recommended, even after a minor head injury, patients are advised not to drive for at least 24 hours. After a more serious injury, most individuals are recommended to refrain from driving for 6 – 12 months.

Following a head injury, the DVLA must be informed – failure to inform the authorities could result in a fine of up to £1000.

How Are Brain Injuries Assessed?

CT and MRI scans are often used to assess the seriousness of an injury. Any type of severe head injury requires in hospital treatment with possible observation, ventilation or further tests.

Why May It Be Dangerous To Drive Following A Brain Injury?

Although driving may appear to be an average everyday type of activity, it is in fact a complex task which requires a combination of both cognitive and physical skills as well as coordination. A brain injury can impact all of the aforementioned, making it potentially dangerous to drive.

Sometimes there are long term effects of a brain injury which may not be immediately visible, but become apparent with time., affecting ability to drive such as;

  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability – the inability to control behaviour
  • Poor reaction time
  • Difficulty switching attention
  • Difficulty reading the road and making decisions

There may also be physical changes following a brain injury, such as weakness in the limbs, fatigue and reduced senses i.e. loss of hearing, or vision.

Getting The Right Support

If your driving ability changes, you may need support to get back on the road. It is advisable to have a driving assessment at a mobility centre if you are in any doubt about your ability to drive. A mobility centre can offer an impartial assessment and help you understand how a brain injury may affect your driving, as well as specifying any vehicle adaptations which may help.

How We Can Help

All Shropshire Mobility is a long standing, independent organisation providing a vehicle adaptation service. We offer a bespoke service, ensuring the individual needs of our clients are met.  Our wide range of vehicle adaptations includes, electronic accelerators, hand controls, pedal modifications, steering aids, left foot accelerators, secondary control systems, swivel seats, Milford Person Hoists, car boot hoists as well as numerous other custom adaptations. Get in touch today for more information.