Let's look at those two scenarios from a motorsports perspective using a typical short track crash as the example. Blown right front tire sends the Late Model into the Turn 4 wall, it happens so fast that the driver barely has time to jump on the brakes before the impact has occurred. Without a head and neck restraint, the driver's head snaps forward causing the brain to slap the inside of the front of his skull. As soon as his head stops its forward motion, the brain springs back to hit the inside back of his skull. By the way, this all occurs before the car comes to a rest one third of the way down the front stretch. He sees stars and has a headache for three days after the race, evidence of a common concussion in short track racing.
In scenario number two, a racer leading the Late Model feature gets loose coming out of turn four and the car begins a lazy spin. The two drivers immediately behind miss him, but the guy running fourth clobbers the rear clip and sends our former leader into a wild spin through a very bumpy infield. Unfortunately, this driver doesn't have a full containment seat nor does he wear a head-and-neck restraint. His head and upper body are violently shaken, but what's going on inside his head loosely resembles a ping pong ball in a blender.
However, what if those two scenarios happened in the same wreck? You can imagine the result could be devastating.
Now add in the fact that we have racers of all ages involved in the sport and it becomes critical for us to understand as much as we can about concussions. For example, because the frontal lobes of the human brain continue to develop until age 25, you can bet that a teenager's brain is going to react and heal differently than an adults in the event of a severe concussion. So it is vital to manage youth concussions very conservatively to ensure optimal neurological development and outcomes.
Some studies have shown that females are more likely than their male counterparts to sustain a concussion. They tend to have more symptoms and require more time to recover.
Additionally, a history of developmental disorders, psychiatric disorders, or a history of headaches or migraines can play a part in concussion recovery time.
Finally, research suggests that if someone has already received one concussion, they are one to two times more likely to receive a second one. If they've had two concussions, then a third is two to four times more likely, and if they've had three concussions, then they are three to nine times more likely to receive their fourth concussion.
The long term effects of multiple concussions are currently being studied by researchers around the globe. Not only can multiple traumatic incidents contribute to the development of mild cognitive impairments (MCI's), chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and other adverse outcomes, but a storied concussion history can also cause post-concussion syndrome (PCS). The subject of PCS and motorsports was detailed in a highly acclaimed article by Bob Bolles in the Oct. '12 issue of Circle Track.
The medical community is constantly learning about the causes of these long-term effects, but it's imperative that a person fully recover from one concussion before risking a subsequent one. Failing to do so adequately can lead to additional neurologic damage. This is what happened to our friend Jeff Vochaska, who Bob wrote about, it wasn't one single event that caused his PCS and changed his life forever. It was multiple concussions over a period of many, many years. The bottom line is that there are numerous factors that contribute to concussions and their recovery.
We are constantly learning but the one thing we do know is that the proper safety equipment, installed and worn correctly to the manufacturer's specifications will help you escape major injuries in many different incidents.
7. The bolt held…the bar didn’t.
8. Look just above Bill’s hand at the balancer. Obviously something got shoved into it hard. That in turn could have touched off internal problems within the rotating assembly of the motor. If ignored or missed this could lead to big problems down the road.
9. Here’s another angle that shows the extent of the bend. It’s a given that they are going to have to clip this car but shocks, springs and other components that don’t appear to be damaged will have to be thoroughly inspected in order to avoid any issues in the future.
10. Just above the spring you can see how badly damaged the framerail is. The paint flaking off is a tell-tale sign that the rail is bent.
11. In this photo you can almost clearly see that the engine compartment was so well built that it took the brunt of the impact. And while the frame rails and all the tubing will have to be replaced the motor actually looks like it never moved from the centerline of the car. Two things likely played into this, number one the integrity of the cage around the engine and number two the set back of the motor (this is a superspeedway car). It goes to show properly designing the cage around your motor can save you thousands of dollars if things go bad.
12 A-C. In these three photos you can see the damage to both the front and rear of the car but notice that the driver’s compartment is not damaged. Not only is this a testament to the structure integrity of the car’s original builder but it demonstrates the importance of car design relative to the safety of the driver. When building or modifying your own car, keep in mind that the driver’s compartment should act as the final cocoon of protection in the event of a bad wreck.