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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Discusses Concussion, Lengthy Recovery, and Concerns Over Career

By: Allan M. Siegel

Earlier this month, NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. revealed he was still recovering from concussion symptoms experienced as a result of a crash in early June. The lengthy recovery is new for Earnhardt, who has suffered previous concussions and head injuries during his career, and it has prompted the driver to not only question his future, but also raise awareness about traumatic brain injuries.

During a recent interview, Earnhardt touches on some key issues about concussions, their symptoms, and their unpredictable nature.

  • According to Earnhardt, he initially felt fine for several weeks following the crash. It wasn’t until 14 days after the wreck that he began experiencing symptoms involving balance, vision, and nausea. This is common among concussion sufferers, and a reason why many feel it is ok to resume normal activity or return to their sport prematurely.
  • Earnhardt reported that unlike issues he experienced with other concussions, the symptoms related to the most recent head injury started gradually and slowly progressed until they remained at a consistent level. He commented on how concussions can have different symptoms and different lengths of recovery.
  • Because the symptoms experienced by Earnhardt are so different than those of previous concussions, he is more concerned – particularly by symptoms affecting his balance and vision, and the lack of change or improvement in recent weeks.
  • As part of his recovery, doctors are advising Earnhardt to expose himself to stimulus that may cause his symptoms, including places with a lot of visual and auditory action, such as restaurants or grocery stores where many people are present.

Earnhardt has not yet returned to racing, and though many are questioning when and if he will return to the track, he maintains he has no plans to retire and wishes to return when cleared by doctors. In the meantime, he is helping raise awareness about concussions and their unpredictable nature, especially among athletes. In fact, he announced earlier this year that he will be donating his brain for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) research. CTE is a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated brain injury. The NFL announced a link between head trauma and CTE among athletes earlier this year.

Our legal team at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. has been named Preferred Attorneys for the DC Metro area by the Brain Injury Association of America. If you have questions about your legal rights following a concussion or other preventable brain injury, contact our firm for a free consultation.