NASCAR announces expansion to concussion protocol

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On Friday NASCAR announced an expansion to its existing concussion protocol.

The changes are part of the recently announced partnership with American Medical Response providing a travelling safety team for all Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races.

The updated protocol adds a “consistent screening tool for all venues and increasing available neurological support.”

Below are the additions to the protocol.

  • As part of the new rule regarding damaged vehicles, a driver whose car sustains damage from an accident or contact of any kind and goes behind the pit wall or to the garage is required to visit the Infield Care Center to be evaluated.
  • NASCAR now requires that Infield Care Center physicians incorporate the SCAT-3 diagnostic tool in screening for head injuries.
  • AMR will provide on-site neurological consultative support at select NASCAR events during the 2017 season and will work directly with NASCAR in the continued development of concussion protocol.

“NASCAR has worked very closely with the industry to ensure our concussion protocol reflects emerging best practices in this rapidly developing area of sports medicine,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, in a press release. “We will continue to utilize relationships we’ve had for years with leaders in the neurological research field who helped to shape these updates.”

The updated protocol comes after 14-time most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed 18 races last year for a concussion. The concussion resulted from a June 12 crash at Michigan International Speedway, but the symptoms didn’t present themselves until week of the July 9 race at Kentucky Speedway.

Matt DiBenedetto was forced to sit out the Nov. 6 Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway after being diagnosed with a concussion following a crash in a Xfinity Series race.

2012 Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski has been a vocal critic of how concussions are treated in NASCAR.

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