Dale Earnhardt Jr. Tells His Concussion Story
NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. chose UPMC for concussion care after back-to-back crashes. Dale says, “The best decision I made was to go to UPMC.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Video Transcript
Dale: When the tire blew, I was going about 200 miles an hour. And, I knew when I hit that wall, it was going to be the hardest hit I’d ever had. I’ve had concussions before, but this was so different. I felt very trapped inside my head. One of the guys on my crew, he was like, “Man, you look off. You look like you’re staring through me.” I got to Talladega about four weeks after that test crash, and the leaders crashed. The guy popped me right behind the seat like a shotgun going off.
Man 1 on radio: You okay, buddy?
Dale on radio: I don’t know… I mean… I don’t know how many of them… hits like that I can take.
Dale: As soon as I got out of the car, I’m like, “Something’s wrong with my head again.” I was really moody, very angry. I couldn’t go anywhere where people were. I was, you know, very scared. I went to some local doctors. They insisted that we go to Pittsburgh to UPMC.
Dr. Micky Collins: The biggest thing for Dale was answering his questions. He wanted to know why he was feeling the things he was feeling. Through our research, we’ve been able to isolate six different types of concussions. Because this is an invisible injury, it is so cryptic to go through. If your vestibular system is injured, you feel the sense of being depersonalized, detached. You feel like you’re on Neptune, is the way patients describe it.
Dale: I walked into UPMC and I felt like I was at a concussion mini-camp. I was like, “This is where I need to be.”
Micky: We understand this injury better than anyone.
Dale: We went through all these activities, that had results, that made sense and exercised the parts of your brain that are confused. And, things got better. I look back at the decisions I made in the past to try to man up and make it, you know, make it through it on my own. It almost cost me my career. It almost, you know, cost me my happiness. With the care that I got at UPMC, I’m back to doing what I love to do.
Man 2 on radio: Holy cow, man, we just won the 500.
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