NFL’s Concussion Controversy shifts to NASCAR

Beginning in 2014, NASCAR will be mandating a pre-season baseline concussion test for all of its national series drivers.

Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) focuses on evaluating verbal and visual memory, processing speed and reaction time.

While the ImPACT test is designed to evaluate the symptoms of a concussion after a driver has suffered a head injury, baseline testing will begin before the start of the racing season so doctors will be able to compare the drivers pre-concussion and post-concussion cognitive abilities and help determine how much recovery time is needed before the driver can get behind the wheel again.

NASCAR vice president of racing Steve O’Donnell said, “NASCAR made this decision because we think it is important to drivers’ health for doctors to have the best information and tools available in evaluating injuries.”

ImPACT testing is also used by a number of teams in major sports leagues including the National Football League (NFL),National Hockey League(NHL)and Major League Baseball(MLB)to evaluate post-concussion symptoms.

However, in the case of the NFL, recognizing and treatment of concussion symptoms was not always a priority. Two months ago, the league agreed to pay $765 Million to settle the NFLConcussion Lawsuit, which involved claims brought by retired players who allege the NFL was negligent in treating concussions suffered during their career.

NASCAR is learning from the NFL’s example and taking all possible safety measures to protect their drivers. In addition to enacting the new ImPACT test, NASCAR also held “concussion education sessions” for drivers as an additional safety measure.

“We regularly review all of our practices involving safety and health to see if there is anything that we can do better, or should do differently moving forward,” O’Donnell advised.

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