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NASCAR likely to make concussion test mandatory NASCAR is on pace to make neurological baseline testing, used to determine whether there is a loss of function after a head injury, a mandatory part of the preseason physical by 2014. Vice president of race operations Steve O'Donnell told ESPN.com on Thursday that drivers are being encouraged to take the ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) baseline test on a voluntary basis this year with plans to become mandatory by next year. Baseline testing already is used in the IndyCar Series and other forms of motorsports. It was brought to light in NASCAR last season when #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. was forced to sit out two races in the Chase after suffering a concussion at Talladega Superspeedway. O'Donnell said the decision to move forward with baseline testing came after NASCAR officials recently met with the organization's panel of doctors and neurologists.
"The decision was made that they thought we should look into this, but we really needed to educate the driver first, how decisions are made, that it's not just made on the ImPACT test [that determines if a driver should be parked]," O'Donnell said. "We're encouraging everyone to do one this year, most likely to be required prior to 2014." The ImPACT test provides a baseline for neurologists to determine brain function prior to a concussion. It is then measured against another test after a wreck or head injury to determine whether a concussion has occurred and its severity.
O'Donnell said NASCAR is looking by then at the potential of having ImPACT equipment at the track that can instantly measure whether a driver has suffered a concussion. But he made it clear the test isn't the final factor in determining whether a driver should be parked. O'Donnell said plans are being made to bring the equipment to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the May All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 to help further educate drivers on how it works. ESPN
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