It’s OK To Err On The Side Of Caution
After Will Power missed the opening round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season reportedly due to a concussion; it was revealed on Wednesday that it was actually due to an inner ear infection. As expected, there were a few that took to social media to blame IndyCar for misdiagnosing Power.
I’m not trying to stir the pot by saying that it was the overwhelming sentiment, because it wasn’t. I think most rational fans agreed that while unfortunate, it was best to err on the side of caution. Still there were enough malcontents that I saw trashing IndyCar, that I felt the need to comment.
Although some have accused me of being a cheerleader for anything that is IndyCar, I certainly don’t feel that’s the case. There are countless examples I could give for when I’ve criticized the series quite heavily for some of their decisions, but this isn’t one of them.
To be honest, I’ve never had a concussion. Nor have I ever had an inner ear infection. But I know people that have had both and neither sounds enjoyable. I don’t even have that much experience being nauseous. But I do know that this past December on Christmas night, I suddenly became so violently ill that I was actually hoping someone would come in and shoot me to put me out of my misery. It was the first time I had thrown up since 1992, but I made up for lost time throughout that entire night. It certainly made for a not so Merry Christmas.
What I most recall as I was laying there at my mother’s house, was wondering how in the world I could even ride in a car to go back to Nashville the next day. I couldn’t even drag myself into the kitchen. If Will Power even felt half as bad as I did, there was no way in the world he could drive a race car around those turns at speed and experience the g-forces that would be exerted onto his body. Even if he tried, he would not only endanger himself but those around him.
Apparently, that’s how bad he felt because Power and Tim Cindric both have said; concussion or not, there was no way Power was racing that day.
As far as misdiagnosing him, I don’t have a problem with that either. As advanced and experienced as IndyCar’s medical team is, there is just so much they can do while at the track. Power had to go through eight hours of rigorous testing later this week, before it was determined that he was not concussed. No one on the IndyCar medical team even knew Power had any problems whatsoever, until Sunday morning.
Dr. Terry Trammell, who has been treating IndyCar drivers so long that I don’t remember when he wasn’t, examined Power Sunday morning and was forced to make a quick decision based on the patient he saw in front of him. Although Power’s practice crash on Friday was not considered what is normally hard enough to cause a concussion, it had been hard enough to cause a sore neck and a headache by Friday night. Then Power was suddenly nauseous and dizzy as he climbed out of the car Saturday after putting his car on the pole.
Dr. Trammell has saved the lives of more than one of our racing heroes over the years. His surgical skills have also allowed drivers to regain the use of their limbs when they were originally considered certain candidates for amputation. His skills, abilities and his reputation as a physician are unquestioned in the paddock. I find it ironic that a few clowns on social media would call Trammell’s judgment into question, when the drivers trust him with their very lives.
There are a few things that I just don’t mess around with, due to the risk/reward associated with them – lightning in the area, faulty brakes on my car and the possibility of sustaining a concussion. Those are three things that I think it is wise to err on the side of caution. To do otherwise is simply not worth it, whether you are twenty-one or seventy-one. The potential for disaster with those three things far outweigh the benefits of messing around with any of them.
Those of us that are football fans have probably learned more about concussions in the past five to seven years, than all the previous years combined. The side-effects appear to have long-reaching effects, well after the initial symptoms wear off. But Power was believed to be in the initial stages of a concussion, when cognitive thinking can be heavily impaired and confusion is common. If I were a driver, I think I would insist that my fellow competitors be fully aware of their surroundings at all times.
It’s a shame that Will Power begins this season in a points deficit to the rest of the field. It makes things interesting for fans; but it creates a hardship for Power, his team and his sponsors. But if that’s the worst thing that came out of this past weekend, that’s small in comparison to what could have happened by allowing a possibly concussed driver to climb into a car and race wheel-to-wheel for two hours. Maybe a Will Power with a concussion could have gotten away with it, but would it have been worth the risk?
Dr. Trammell and IndyCar had to make an informed decision in a very short amount of time. Given the amount of information they had to work with, I think they made the right call – regardless of the opinions of a few cretins on social media. Again, their numbers were few, but it didn’t take seeing many to get me riled up over this.
I side with IndyCar on this one. They made the right decision. It really is better to err on the side of caution in this case.