Just days after the famed racing driver said he's not getting back behind the wheel for the rest of the year, several experts opened up about his condition and outlook on his future.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his racing team announced on Friday, September 2nd, that he would not be returning to the track anytime soon and that he was missing the rest of this season's races - all of it due to a significant concussion he suffered in June.
He's been continually working with experts and specialists to improve his health following the head injury, but progress has been slow.
“You don’t feel as sharp as you used to feel,” said Jim Lowe, a former sports car driver and neurosurgeon in Philadelphia. “The average high school football player might not notice this, but you take a NASCAR driver who has to be on the razor’s edge of concentration and reflex and give him that scenario, he’s disabled, hopefully temporarily."
After the initial injury, Earnhardt, 41, raced three more times not knowing exactly what was wrong. One of the biggest factors in a successful recovery from a concussion is avoiding repeat injuries - and that means even soft blows. So, at this point, if Dale Jr. ever wants to get back to normal, he absolutely needs to be careful with anything he does that could re-injure himself.
It's for this reason that he, his team, and his specialists have all decided to pull him off the track for the remainder of the season, and it's also why he hasn't been on the track since July. But, Lowe says that it also shows something else...
“It shows an abundance of caution and, frankly, a little fear,” he continues telling USA Today. “Nobody quite knows what the rules with concussions are right now. But guys are taking this very seriously, thankfully, if they’ve had multiple concussions. Problems from a concussion can be amplified if the recovery from a previous concussion isn’t complete. Everybody is scared of stacking one on top of the other.”
The long-term complications from further concussions or re-injuring a healing concussion can lead to nasty issues, including a degenerative brain disease that's been linked to repeated head trauma.
While his fans are surely disappointed to see that he has to miss out on more races, they all appear unanimous in support of his recovery - however long that takes.
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