Concussions and traumatic brain injuries have been making headlines for months now. So far though, the dangers of concussions have been discussed mainly in the context of professional football players. Lawsuits brought by thousands of NFL players have been splashed across the front pages of newspapers, but it looks like the problem may now be hitting another professional sports group: NASCAR.
NASCAR’s vice president of operations announced that the organization will require baseline concussion tests for all drivers beginning in 2014. Drivers will also be urged to get an ImPACT test done prior to the start of the upcoming season even though it will not yet be mandatory.
The ImPACT test is used to determine the severity of a concussion and whether an athlete should be allowed to return to a game (or a race, as the case may be). The test is made up of a series of fast-paced quizzes and the score from a test given immediately after an injury is compared against a baseline ImPACT score that was administered prior to each season. The score shows how quickly and accurately a driver can answer such questions and can help reveal damage caused by a brain injury.
The high speed crashes and jostling involved in racing cars leads to plenty of head traumas. In fact, just last year Dale Earnhardt, Jr. missed two races due to a concussion. The famous driver suffered a concussion after a crash that took place at the end of August last year at the Kansas Speedway. Earnhardt suffered from some concussion symptoms after the crash but it has been revealed that he never had any follow-up exams. He then suffered a second concussion in a wreck that took place during the final lap of an early October race at Talladega Superspeedway. The doctors were sufficiently concerned after his second concussion and ordered him to sit out races over the next two weeks. NASCAR officials claim they never knew about either concussion until Earnhardt revealed them after his second injury.
Though it’s great that NASCAR announced its intention of taking action in the future, it’s a little late to the game. The ImPACT test is already in use by many other injury prone sports leagues and is even mandatory in the Indy Car racing series.
Pope McGlamry P.C., currently represents former professional football players for injuries and damages sustained as a result of suffering concussions while playing football, and is actively involved in this litigation. If you or someone you love has been injured by a sports-related concussion, you may be entitled to compensation.
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