A new collaboration of a comprehensive and potentially transformational motorsport concussion study, RESCUE-RACER, has been announced between Neuro Kinetics, Inc (NKI), the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust with support from the FIA Foundation.

This two-year study of motorsport concussion, in partnership with world motorsport’s governing body Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), incorporates the most promising and technologically advanced concussion assessment modalities currently available. The goal is to establish the natural history of symptoms and signs of concussion sustained in motorsport activity using comprehensive neuroscientific tests by exploring emerging technologies for assessments that can assist with concussion diagnosis and prognosis.

The RESCUE-RACER study uses I-PAS™ and other concussion assessment tools to establish and assess the natural history of concussion symptoms in motorsports.

The study will begin by collecting baseline data from professional motorsport drivers in the United Kingdom with post-injury tests to be run during the 2019 race season. The study consists of two parts: the first, CarBON (Competitor Assessment at Baseline; Ocular, Neuroscientific), will record data from 40 UK-based racing drivers to create a baseline; and the second, CARS (Concussion Assessment and Return to motorSport), will assess a minimum of 20 drivers in the acute post-injury period (usually one to three weeks).

Professor of Neurosurgery, NIHR Research Professor, and Principle Investigator for RESCUE-RACER, Peter Hutchinson, said:

“The project represents a significant step for motorsport medicine; RESCUE-RACER prospectively follows drivers through a racing season and uses state-of-the-art assessment tools and imaging. This represents a tremendous opportunity to improve the management of drivers with concussion and traumatic brain injury in terms of assisting recovery and enabling return to safe driving.” 

Prof. Peter Hutchinson

Primary study support is provided by the FIA’s 2018 Sid Watkins Scholar and RESCUE-RACER Study Coordinator, Dr. Naomi Deakin, who, like Prof. Hutchinson, is based at Robinson College, Cambridge. The RESCUE-RACER programme is jointly sponsored by the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which comprises Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Rosie Maternity Hospital.

After an accident there is obvious concern for the individual racer, but a concussed driver also presents a potentially lethal risk to other competitors as well as spectators and crew. 

RESCUE-RACER is expected to result in evidenced-based, medical decision-making protocols for track-side evaluation after potentially concussive incidents and a plan for clinical management of motorsports concussion, including the important ‘return-to-race’ decision. 

Improved care for head-injured racers could also translate into enhanced care for road-traffic accident victims from the general population.

“The advantage with I-PAS, in particular, is that it appears to be both objective and portable,”

Dr. Deakin

said Dr. Deakin. She continued:

“We need an accurate assessment tool that we can easily take to the race circuit medical centre or rally service park. If I-PAS performs well in RESCUE-RACER, we may be able to rapidly, and objectively, identify concussion in the motorsport environment.” 

Dr. Deakin

“The BTCC has been investigating concussion with Dr. Deakin since 2017 and provides a perfect opportunity to study competitors of all ages in a variety of vehicles, with our associated series’, including both closed cars and single seaters,”

Alan Gow

said Alan Gow, BTCC Chief Executive.

“With a permanent medical team and the support of the Technical Director Peter Riches and his crew, any potential accident resulting in a potential concussion can be thoroughly investigated and important data collected.” 

Alan Gow

The project is funded by the FIA Foundation and supported by Neuro Kinetics.

Source: FIA Foundation

Image Credit: British Touring Car Championship (copyright)