RACE Events drivers/riders are among the many athletes who can sustain a head injury while participating in their chosen sport. For the health and safety of our drivers/riders, RACE Events has the following approach to concussions.
RACE Events has identified that in the effort to reduce the risk of injuries, particularly Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), in crashes it is important to maintain safer racecourses. For example, all motorcycle events include the energy-absorbing bottle bags barrier walls in collaboration with the Canadian Rider Safety Fund to shield fixed hazards such as pit walls at the pit entrance and high risks area. These innovations have significantly reduced the deceleration that the riders experience when making contact with walls or barriers during competition and have decreased the frequency of rider injuries and concussions.
In car racing, risks are significantly lower, but they still occur. Growing awareness and making Hans devices mandatory are some of the tools that are used for prevention.
The symptoms of a concussion are subjective and notoriously nonspecific (blurred vision, confusion, dizziness, feeling hazy/foggy/groggy, headache, difficulty concentrating/staying focused, nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, or just not feeling right). Any of these conditions following a crash may be symptoms of a concussion, and since they are subjective, there is no way that a physician evaluating the competitor can know if the driver or rider is experiencing the symptoms of a concussion unless it is disclosed. Starting 2020, at the beginning of the season, the symptoms of a concussion will be reviewed to emphasize the importance of informing the medical team if any of these symptoms are experienced following a crash. The drivers/riders are also reminded of the risk of a second concussion if they have not fully recovered from a concussion and the long-term consequences of repeated concussions.
If, following an on-track incident, a member of the medical team observes signs of a possible concussion (transient loss of consciousness; delayed or slowed spoken or physical response; slurred/unclear speech; blank stare/dazed look; loss of balance/ coordination; behavior/personality changes; disorientation; loss of memory of events preceding, during or following the incident) in an involved driver/rider or if the driver/rider experiences symptoms of a concussion, the competitor will be transported to the medical center or hospital where the medical team will administer a validated concussion detection tool. If the driver/rider remains symptomatic, has any signs of a concussion or fails the concussion detection tool, the medical team will declare the driver medically unfit to drive and notify appropriate officials. The driver/rider will remain medically unfit to drive/ride until such time as he/she has completed RACE Events’ Return-to-Racing Protocol.
RACE Events Return-to-Racing Protocol
Each concussion and each driver are unique, and it is not possible to set a fixed time frame for return to participation or for the progression through the steps of the graduated exercise program (described below). Recovery time will vary from competitor to competitor. The decision to return a driver/rider to participation ultimately remains with the RACE Events general manager. The RACE Events medical team will make recommendations to series officials based upon their professional opinion as to the driver/rider’s medical fitness to participate in racing activities.
The concussed driver/rider is instructed to rest until all symptoms have resolved. Once concussive symptoms have been resolved, the driver/rider is to begin light exercises as prescribed by their medical practitioner. Depending on the driver/rider and the seriousness of the concussion, this process may take days to several weeks to complete.
When the driver/rider has returned to baseline exercise ability and remains asymptomatic, he/she will get their medical practitioner to issue a note to the attention of the RACE Events general manager stating that he/she can safely return to racing. Once that note has been received, the general manager will notify the series officials that the competitor is medically cleared to resume racing activities.
The driver/rider should start with practice sessions and gradually increasing speed and intensity until he/she reaches a competitive level without concussive symptoms prior to returning to competition. Since the symptoms of a concussion are subjective, it is important for team owners to work with the driver/rider to assure that symptoms do not reoccur, and that if they do, the driver/rider feels comfortable in reporting these symptoms to the team or medical staff. If symptoms or signs of concussion reappear after testing at competitive speeds, the driver/rider will be declared medically unfit to compete until such time as he/she is asymptomatic and capable of practicing at competitive speeds for at least 30 minutes without symptoms or signs of a concussion.