Power Never Had Concussion From St. Pete Crash

INDIANAPOLIS – Unfortunately, the reason for which Will Power missed Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete, didn’t end up being his diagnosis. The Team Penske driver was held out of Sunday’s Verizon IndyCar Series season opener due to what seemed like concussion symptoms.

Power, crashed hard into a concrete barrier during Friday’s opening practice session and said he felt awful on Saturday morning. Despite that, he still practiced and even qualified his No. 12 Verizon Wireless Chevrolet later on in the day at the 1.8-mile street circuit, as despite having nausea, he still qualified on the pole.

But, the symptoms only got worse overnight as he had all the signs of a concussion.

The team held Power out of the morning warmup and then the race due as he never felt any better.

The biggest question was, how did the medical team miss this? How as Power allowed to return to the track with a concussion?

Well, we now know he didn’t have a concussion after all. They in fact did their jobs correctly as the medical team was right to clear him on Friday afternoon.

“It’s tough to say you don’t want to be in a race car, but I had those symptoms,” he said Wednesday. “At that point they went to the SCAT test and it was determined at that point I had all the symptoms of a concussion.

“Obviously I wanted to get in the car but on the other hand, when you feel (it’s) a concussion it’s also very concerning.”

“It’s tough to say you don’t want to be in a race car, but I had those symptoms,” Power said on the IndyCar conference call on Wednesday. “At that point they went to the SCAT test and it was determined that at that point I had all the symptoms of a concussion.

“Obviously I wanted to get in the car but on the other hand, when you feel (it’s) a concussion it’s also very concerning.”

Tests at the University of Miami’s Concussion program Monday showed no evidence of a head injury from the crash three days earlier that led to Power being held out.

Power had all the symptoms of a concussion — headache, vertigo issues, difficulty concentrating and he failed a standard athlete concussion test — but it was determined those were related to an inner ear infection he’d been dealing with for weeks.

IndyCar safety consultant Dr. Terry Trammell outlined how the scenario worked with Power’s diagnosis. He said the crash was an average force of 30 g’s, which is below the level of concern for concussions — and his first symptom didn’t materialize until later that evening, when his neck was sore and stiff.

That’s why Power was cleared.

Trammell said the team followed protocol and wouldn’t have done anything differently saying “(He) had no symptoms at that point of any kind.”

It wasn’t until Power climbed out of his car Saturday did he really realize just how nauseous and dizzy he was. Despite that, he didn’t say a word for IndyCar’s medical personnel as the team the series didn’t even know the extent of the situation until he was held out of the morning warmup.

At that point, race director Brian Barnhart insisted on a follow-up examination, which Power failed.

But, with the tests coming back that there wasn’t a concussion, what was it then?

Sounds like it was an ear infection.

Trammell said the “compounding factors” related to the ear infection meant Power couldn’t pass the test.

“If you have an inner ear infection with fluid in the inner ear like Will did, that by itself can cause you to have a sense of balance disturbance, vertigo, can cause you then to be nauseated,” Trammell said. “It can produce a headache. Anybody that’s had a sinus or inner ear infection knows this, and if you have a headache and you’re nauseated, you don’t concentrate very well. Add to that fact that as the day, Saturday, went on (his) … neck stiffness and soreness … (responded) badly to loads under braking, and that causes increasing muscle tension, which also causes a headache.

“So now … you have him take the SCAT test, which he’ll now fail. We take the possibility of concussion very seriously and want to err on the side of caution rather than the other way around.”

According to research done by neurological expert Dr. Steve Olvey, a driver who has an 80 g impact should have a head injury criteria of 1,000. Power’s was 44.

“Nothing correlated very well,” Trammell said. “His crash was not sufficient to really cause a concussion under most circumstances, and he had a mix of symptoms for a variety of reasons.”

“On Friday after the crash, I was OK,” Power said. “But I got out, felt fine, got in the car, felt fine, did practice, and then … that night I started to have some of these symptoms. Then that kind of continued on into Saturday and kind of got worse and then it came to the point where I had to say something to the medical staff.”

During a battery of tests over an eight-hour period Monday, Power was found to have no head trauma either from Friday’s crash or others in the past, including the 2009 crash at Sonoma Raceway that broke his back.

That led to Power finally being cleared to drive as he will take part in a test at Barber Motorsports Park next Tuesday since he wasn’t able to take part in the open test there this past week.

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