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FIA launches new concussion awareness campaign

by Ida Wood

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

The FIA, motorsport’s global governing body, announced the launch of a new concussion awareness campaign during its second World Motor Sport Council meeting of 2024.

For several years the federation has worked on a large-scale concussion research and response project, and there have been parallel advancements in research on the matter in other sports too.

Head injuries, and more specifically concussions, can be sustained in all forms of motorsport and can occur without a crash even having to occur due to the forces the human body is put under while at the wheel. This became apparent in Formula 1 two years ago when the car designs induced porpoising – a bouncing up and down of the chassis due to differences in air pressure above and below the vehicle – and drivers reported the continuous vibrations had side-effects for their heads.

The FIA Medical and Safety team’s new project has an educational focus and has been plotted in a way that it can be rapidly rolled out across all of motorsport to make more competitors, organisers and circuit staff aware of concussions and the dangers they present.

“The educational content, created to be used across social platforms and as printable assets, is available to all member clubs. The assets will be available in any club’s language of choice,” read the FIA’s statement announcing the campaign.

“Concussion is a mild brain injury that needs to be taken seriously, and by educating on how to spot it, the steps to take if concussed, and how to return to racing, this knowledge sharing will help keep motor sport as safe as possible. The best concussion is the one you don’t have, and prevention is the first line of defence.

“Signs of concussion to watch out for include: headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, problems balancing, amnesia or forgetfulness [and] irritability or changed emotional state.

“Competitors with symptoms should present themselves to the medical team who will assess and advise. Remember, if in doubt, sit out.

“On returning to racing after a concussion, international competitors should follow the regulations in Appendix L of the FIA Sporting Code. National competitors should follow the advice of their ASN medical department, with all competitors declaring concussion instances to the chief medical officer at the start of their next race.”

Not all concussion symptoms are immediate, and delayed onset of them – particularly when competitors are full of adrenaline or in a state of shock – can lead to many head injuries going unspotted during initial medical examinations after crashes.