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NASCAR may require baseline neuropsychological testing for its drivers

Baseline concussion testing may become mandatory for all NASCAR race drivers as early as 2014 according to news reports.

 Reportedly, NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said that NASCAR has been providing information during competitors' annual preseason physicals about the imPACT test, which measures several neurocognitive functions including memory, reaction time, attention span and other cognitive abilities.

Baseline testing is performed at the beginning of each season to determine an athlete’s cognitive abilities before a concussion takes place. The athlete is then retested after a concussion or head injury and the results are compared to the earlier test. This provides medical professionals with important information on how the brain is healing and whether a player has fully recovered from the concussion. While the test cannot provide all of the answers, it is part of the arsenal of information that allows for an intelligent decision on when an athlete can return to play.

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