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Two Major Racing Leagues Get Serious About Concussion Protocols

Jason Reese


  • Both NASCAR and IndyCar have announced improvements to the evaluation of driver concussions and brain injuries prior to them returning to the track to compete.
  • NASCAR will now be using a quick screening test developed in partnership with Mayo Clinic that involves a driver’s vision.
  • IndyCar will use a different concussion assessment system, commonly referred to as the “goggles test” as well as data pulled from ear accelerometers.
  • With Indiana’s rich history of race track driving and children (and adults) with dreams made of speed induced thrills, it’s important for those who support the sport to understand the ongoing concussion risks involved and know how to identify the symptoms of brain injury.

NASCAR and IndyCar Strengthen Concussion Screening Protocol

NASCAR has announced the implementation of a new screening test for drivers brought to the infield medical center and need to be evaluated for symptoms typically associated with concussions and brain injury prior to rejoining a race. The King-Devick test was developed alongside researchers at Mayo Clinic as a quick way to identify neurological issues for drivers involved in crashes. NASCAR had been using tests that took 20 minutes or more.

NASCAR says the test only takes a few minutes and involves a driver reading randomly spaced numbers listed in a row. Since vision accounts for more than 55 percent of the brain’s pathways a score lower than a baseline number administered at the start of the season could indicate that a driver has suffered a concussion.

IndyCar uses a different concussion assessment system, commonly referred to as the “goggles test” through a program called I-Portal. This evaluation helps identify issues with drivers who present symptoms of dizziness and balance disorders, concussions, headaches or vertigo. IndyCar began looking to use the I-PAS test after Will Power’s crash during season-opening weekend in 2016.

IndyCar drivers also have ear accelerometers. Medical staff can pull data from those devices when running concussion protocol as well.

Top Race Car Drivers Are Born in Indiana

Jeff Gordon, Wilbur Shaw, Tony Stewart and Howdy Wilcox are just a few of the names famously known for their race car driving success and who also called Indiana home. Naturally, IndyCar and race track driving remain a favorite pastime for Hoosiers to support as spectators and participants themselves. It’s important for parents of young adults who start out racing in something as simple as a Soap Box car understand the risk related to accident-prone activities. A study by an Indiana University researcher concluded that young adults (and children) who have suffered severe head injuries, and those who had more than one head injury, were more likely to be affected in the future. So, before your child coasts downhill or around a track at “breakneck speed”, make sure they are protected from injuries and you understand the symptoms of concussion or brain injury.

It is important to remember that head injuries can occur in any sport setting, even a casual adult league or fun car race designed for youth. Prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment is critical for long-term prognosis.

Head Injuries Can Occur in Any Sports Setting

If you or your child has been suffering as a result of delayed diagnosis of a concussion or a missed diagnosis of previous concussion or brain injury, it maybe be difficult to complete simple daily tasks. Ongoing medical, emotional, and therapeutic support may be necessary. We can help by providing the legal assistance you need to focus on healing. Call the medical malpractice and personal injury attorneys at Wagner Reese for your FREE consultation at (888) 204-8440 or complete our online form and one of our attorneys will be in touch.


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