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Earnhardt Jr. Pledges Brain To Scientific Research

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 1 2016
Dale Earnhardt Jr. talked about his decision to donate his brain to science on Friday at Martinsville. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. talked about his decision to donate his brain to science on Friday at Martinsville. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Information Dale Earnhardt Jr. received four years ago when he suffered two concussions in a six-week period as well as inspiration garnered from other athletes convinced the third-generation driver to pledge his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation after his death, the NASCAR driver said Friday.

sprint-logo-08“I was inspired really by Brandi Chastain (professional soccer player) and the (Oakland) Raiders guys that donated their brains in honor of their teammate,” Earnhardt Jr. said at Martinsville Speedway during preparations for Sunday’s STP 500.

“I went through my experience in 2012 and met some amazing doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “They gave me the confidence going through that process that I could be successful and get through it. I have been healthy and successful and I learned a ton. I may be even a better race car driver today and I’m definitely getting the results on the track that I’ve always wanted.”

Less than two years after Earnhardt Jr.’s diagnosis and recovery, NASCAR mandated pre-season neurocognitive baseline testing as part of its comprehensive concussion prevention and management program for all of its national series drivers. When the testing became required at the beginning of the 2014 season there were drivers who opposed the new mandate. Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t one of them.

“I believe in the impact test and what it’s used for and how it’s used,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I think it’s a great tool not only for understanding a concussion or trying to diagnose a concussion, but it’s also a great tool to treat the concussion once you have been diagnosed and understand that you have the concussion. The more information we get from the doctors the better equipped we are to protect ourselves. Concussions are like snowflakes. There are no two concussions that are the same.”

Earnhardt Jr. hopes his decision to donate his brain to research will inspire others to follow suit.

“They don’t need just athletes,” he continued. “They need everybody.”

The 41-year-old driver noted he had been listed as an organ donor on his driver’s license for several years, so pledging his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation was a “no brainer.” He said he would carry a card that would alert medical personnel to his decision, but nothing was binding; his family could refuse.

“Anytime I get a little too much attention I get a little nervous, but I want to do the right thing,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “Hopefully, I’m going to live 40, 50 more years and the science has progressed so much that they don’t need it. But if they do, it’s there.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 1 2016
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