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Car Racing Can Lead to Concussions, CTE

Monday, September 11, 2017By Nina Shapirshteyn

Minor head injuries, called concussions, are commonly caused by accidents that involve the head directly hitting a hard object, such as in a car crash and contact sports. However, many people are not aware that concussions may occur even when the head is not directly impacted by great force.

It is for this reason that Dr. Christopher Prusinski warns the motorsport community of the risks of concussions in car racing, even when there is no major accident that happens. According to Dr. Prusinski, a neurologist who is also active in motorsports, the “acceleration-deceleration force” as is the nature of car racing, is the basic causative factor of concussion.

This simply means that the abrupt changes in speed during car racing can cause concussions as the drivers experience frequent head jolts. When the head is forcefully thrown forward and back, the nerve fibers in the brain can be stretched out. This will eventually result in damage to the axons, the fibers that transmit neurological signals between nerve endings.

When the damage occurs, communication between brain cells is delayed or impaired. This causes the immediate effects of concussions, such as headache, nausea, delay in a person’s reaction time, and possible impairment of motor and cognitive functions.

Alarmingly, concussions have long-term effects. These may lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), one of the degenerative brain diseases that have been found in people who were actively involved in contact sports. This is characterized by cognitive problems (memory loss, dementia, and impaired judgment), physical malfunctions, and emotional and behavioral issues such as depression.

The nature of CTE has not been clearly defined as people with CTE may also have signs of other degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Although it can be assumed that repetitive head trauma likely cause CTE, early studies show that even one major concussion may lead to this long-term disease.

Thus, it is important that those involved in car racing and other motorsports and contact sports take the matter seriously. Prusinski advises car racers to self-monitor for immediate signs of concussion in the event of a crash, even when the head has not been hit directly. Also, they must seek medical consultation for early evaluation and management.

Since CTE has no known cure to date, Prusinski suggests that people take precautionary measures. He recommends that car racers have a neurocognitive evaluation, called Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT). This test involves taking baseline data of a person’s memory, reaction time, processing speed, and concentration. These baseline data are entered into a system, and can used for comparison when a driver has an accident.

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury because of another’s negligence, Alexander Law Group, LLC stands ready to help you receive compensation. Contact us at 888.777.1776, or contact us online for a free, confidential consultation.

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