Returning Adolescents to Driving after Sports-Related Concussions: What Influences Physician Decision-Making

February 26, 2018

Authors: James MacDonald, Neha Patel, Julie Young, Emily Stuart

Journal: The Journal of Pediatrics

DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.10.032

Year Published: 2018


To determine which data collected on an initial patient clinic visit for a sports-related concussion (SRC) might influence physicians to clear an adolescent to return to drive (RTD) after injury.

Study design:

Retrospective cohort study of 189 adolescents with a SRC referred to a hospital-based concussion clinic between June 1, 2015, and May 31, 2016. Subjects were ≥16 years with a valid driver’s license (median age = 16, IQR [16, 17]). Concussion evaluations included Post-Concussion Symptom Scale, modified Balance Error Scoring System, and postinjury computerized neurocognitive testing (CNT). Clearance for RTD was the main outcome. Statistical comparisons were conducted with Mann–Whitney U and χ2 tests and logistic regression.


In multivariable analysis, odds of being fully cleared to drive were 5.9-fold greater among patients who were administered CNT. Stated symptoms of “headache” and “sensitivity to light” were statistically significantly associated with RTD clearance. For a subset of 113 individuals undergoing CNT, each additional 10-millisecond decrease in simple reaction time was associated with 9% greater odds of being cleared to drive. Each additional 10-millisecond decrease in choice reaction time was associated with 4% greater odds of being cleared to drive.


CNT and associated reaction time measures may facilitate a physician’s objective decision-making. Making a RTD determination for adolescents recovering from an SRC should be a core component of a physician’s assessment.

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