Two years ago, the NASCAR world was stood on its head when Dale Earnhardt Jr. pulled himself out of racing after the October Talladega race, citing a concussion.
It was a brave decision and one that was something of a game-changer at the time, considering the increased awareness of concussions and their impact – particularly in the National Football League.
Though in recent years, the number of diagnosed concussions in racing have gone down – and that’s a good thing – it’s still something that could be lurking around every corner if an impact is severe enough to have a head injury. It was still severe enough to end Dario Franchitti’s career, as occurred in his Houston accident last October.
Earnhardt Jr. had had a testing accident at Kansas on August 29, 2012, which was his first concussion that year, and ultimately meant he’d race with one for a little more than a month. His one sustained at Talladega that October was his second in three months. Here was his announcement that he’d pull himself out of the cockpit.
Now, two years later, Earnhardt Jr. will be featured in a national awareness initiative about concussions, as part of a new program initiated by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).
The UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program is working to change the current discussion where two powerful messages are lost: Concussions can be treated, and there are evidence-based therapies that result in full recoveries every day.
A new online site – ReThinkConcussions.com – is being launched to reveal the available scientific treatments.
Earnhardt Jr. and David Ross, a Major League Baseball catcher who most recently played for the 2013 World Series-winning Boston Red Sox, are the two athletes and UPMC patients featured in the initiative.
A full release on the program can be found here. Meanwhile Earnhardt’s two-minute introductory video is below: