“This is not the field for doctors.”
So said Brad Keselowski the other day after NASCAR announced it will have the drivers submit a baseline neurocognitive brain test starting next year. The test is said to help diagnose further head injuries such as concussions caused by crashes. The test is called ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) and it’s widely used in high school, college and professional sports. However, 2012 Sprint Cup champion Keselowski isn’t buying the idea.
Brad K feels this is an area that the medical field should not be addressing because they don’t understand the sport. Brad added this past weekend, “Let them play in their arena and I’ll play in mine.” Brad’s concern is brain injuries (or at least the appearance of an injury) will become subjective and controlled by doctors rather than the driver and team.
Yet, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is a friend of Keselowski’s, offered a differing opinion than Brad’s when Dale said,
“It makes perfect sense to make it mandatory. The test is really simple and it’s pretty straightforward. It helped me a lot.”
Of course, Earnhardt has had difficulties with this exact problem when he experienced complications after a concussion last season while testing.
His knowledge and understanding of the ImPACT convinced him to persuade his teammate Jeff Gordon to take the test before the 2013 season started. Said Gordon,“I’d rather have it before the season starts, before the potential of having a head injury, to get a baseline.”
In 2011, Keselowski broke his leg during testing in the middle of the year but continued to race the rest of the season, gaining fans and admirers for his grit and toughness. That’s why someone like Keselowski believes drivers will be judged by medical personnel that don’t understand the mental toughness that goes with driving a stock car in the professional ranks. Brad reiterated his apprehension of judging his mental abilities saying, “It’s just another subjective field for doctors that don’t understand our sport.”
Then to punctuate his argument against the testing and that doctors should stay out of the sport, Kesleowksi said,
“Doctors don’t understand our sport. Doctors aren’t risk-takers. We are.”
As a huge fan of Brad Keselwoski, I am torn by this argument. Of course, doctors aren’t racers, but then again, racers aren’t doctors. I have been an advocate for Alzheimer’s for quite awhile and though I’m no expert, brain injuries in sports have been downplayed for far too long. Motorsports does a great job of keeping drivers safe compared to other sports, but there’s still always room for improvement.
Since I’ve also been involved with racing, my opinion is that anything you can do to preserve the drivers head, the better. You can break hands, feet, arms and legs – you can even break your back and come back from it; but when you lose the ability to think, your life is over. My knowledge of dementia says you must do everything you can to protect the head because brain injuries during your career will affect your life long after racing.
Brad K has earned criticism from many flanks and fired back on Twitter tweeting,
“I believe that self responsibility more often then not serves the common good for man kind. My health= my responsibility”
Brad Keselowski is one of the more vocal drivers on the NASCAR circuit; and, sometimes he catches more grief than most due to his somewhat opinionated approach to communications, including using Twitter regularly. Refreshing really, I applaud him for it and believe he is good for the sport, plus he brings a little of that old school attitude.
However, unless he fully understands the consequences of head injuries and how they affect a person in the immediate as well as the future, as a big fan of his, I’d like him to give the concussion issue a longer harder look … for the good of his, as well as his fellow drivers health.
Source: USA Today