JUNE 29, 2004
Ralf to miss France and Britain?
The BBC is reporting that according to its sources Ralf Schumacher will miss the French Grand Prix. Our sources agree but add that because there will be no testing possibilities between the French and British events, the German will be stood down for both events. This has yet to be confirmed by the Williams team. Schumacher is still recovering from the effects of his 79G accident in the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis. It is expected that the team will put reserve driver Marc Gene into the car in place of Schumacher.
While Ralf suffered only bruising and concussion there are fears that he could cause much more serious damage if he returns to the cockpit too quickly. Following a concussion there are changes in brain metabolism which lasting from 24 hours to 10 days. During this period the brain is more vulnerable to permanent injury and possibly death. As a result doctors tend to be very cautious about allowing sportsmen to return too quickly to a sport because the disappearance of dizziness, headaches and nausea do not mean that a full recovery has been made. There are ways in which concussion can be measured and for the last 18 months F1 ha been trying to introduce a system called Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) which enables doctors to compare the performance of a driver's brain before and after a big accident. The test is initially tried on the drivers when they are healthy and this acts as a baseline for them later on after they have had an accident. The process - a computer programme - was developed in the National Football League in the United States in the 1980s. It has been widely tested and is used in various sports including CART and IRL. Unfortunately drivers have been slow to respond and taking the test only became mandatory this year and so records are still rather rudimentary.
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