Brain Waves: UAB Traumatic Brain Injury Model System Newsletter Volume 16 | Number 1 - Page 2

LIFE AFTER TBI Driving after Brain Injury Driving is a natural desire for most people. We usually start learning to drive when we’re in our late teens, and it’s a sign that we’re growing up and gaining independence. Much like it is when we’re teens, driving after a brain injury is a sign of progress and increasing independence. That makes it an important goal in recovery. What skills are needed to drive? Driving takes more than simply being able to see where you’re going. You have to multi-task a number of skills to drive safely. • • • • • Processing and understanding • • information in an instant is needed to recognize and react to the ever-changing driving situations, like vehicle speed, merging traffic, lane changing, traffic lights and everything else involved in driving. Hand-eye coordination is needed to move quickly to react and respond to any issue at any moment. Concentration is needed to keep your attention focused on driving • for prolonged periods and to select and focus on what’s most essential at any point in time. Good spatial awareness is needed to keep your vehicle in the proper lane and judge distances between your vehicle and those around you. Memory is needed to remember where you’re going and how to get there. Hearing is needed so that you hear everything around you and react to warning sounds, like sirens and car horns. Good judgment is needed to make the best choices in developing situations, like pulling off the road during a severe rainstorm until the weather improves. Stamina is needed to sustain the prolonged physical and mental effort of driving. You might drive for a few minutes or for hours, but you have to use every driving skill for the entire time you’re driving. How can a brain injury impair driving skills? Here’s how brain injury can change or disrupt your driving skills. • If your speed of thinking is slower, • • • • • • you can’t process and understand information as quickly. If you have slower hand-eye coordination, you can’t move quickly to react and respond to situations. If you have trouble concentrating, you can easily be distracted and divert your attention from driving. If your vision or spatial awareness is altered, you lack the skills needed to keep your vehicle in proper position and judge the distance between your vehicle and other vehicles moving around you. If you have poor memory, you might forget where you’re going or get lost on the way. If you’re unable to recognize subtle differences between sounds, you might not hear warning sounds around you. If your judgment is impaired, you might drive in risky situations, like drive at night even if you have poor night vision or not pull off the road during a severe rainstorm. Get Involved In UAB Research! Brave Initiative The University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) aims to improve the motor deficit of veterans who have sustained a traumatic brain injury. Potential participants must: • be at least 19 years old and 3 months post TBI; • have movement problems or weakness of the • • arms, but the ability to make at least some limited movements with the more affected hand; have no excessive pain; and be able to undergo MRI If you believe you meet the criteria above and would like to participate in this study, Go to the website, call 205- 934-9768, or email for more information. 2 uab.edu/tbi Scale Up Project Evaluating Responsiveness to Home Exercise And Lifestyle Tele-Health (SUPER-HEALTH) This study evaluates the effects of an exercise program on improving pain, fatigue, physical activity, and physical function. The program is delivered through a tablet app in the convenience of the home using exercise videos. Criteria to Participate • Ages 18-64 • Mobility Impairment/Disability • WiFi Internet access in Home Participants receive a tablet and Fitbit to use during study and are eligible to keep all equipment at the completion of last study visit. Visit superhealthstudy.org, call (205) 403- 5509, or email superhealthstudy@uab.edu.