The RESCUE-RACER study, is a two-year study of concussion in motorsport, funded by the FIA Foundation and delivered in partnership with world motorsport’s governing body the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). RESCUE-RACER incorporates the most promising and technologically advanced concussion assessment tools currently available to explore its two main aims – rapid identification of concussion and provision of an evidence base for the return to race decision.
The study consists of two parts. The first investigates 50 predominantly UK-based racing drivers at baseline, recruiting mainly from the British Touring Car Championship and its associated series. Post-injury tests are open to international motorsport competitors, carried out during the 2019 and 2020 race seasons. The second part assesses a minimum of 20 drivers in the acute post-injury period (up to three weeks after injury) following involvement in a potentially concussive incident. The RESCUE-RACER assessment involves measures such as eye tracking, balance, and reaction NIHRBrainMICtime, with data collected using technology developed by Neurolign, with whom the researchers are collaborating. The team also collect data using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) as well as salivary biomarkers. They will use the latest, powerful 7T Magnet-ic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner, using sequences to explore brain structure and function by measuring changes in blood flow.
The Principal Investigator for RESCUE-RACER is Professor Peter Hutchinson from Cambridge’s Department of Clinical Neurosciences, and a neurosurgeon at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
“The project represents a significant step for motorsport medicine,” says Professor Hutchinson. “RESCUE-RACER will follow drivers through a racing season and uses state-of-the-art assessment tools and imaging. This represents a tremendous opportunity to improve the management of drivers with concussion and traumatic brain injury in terms of assisting recovery and enabling return to safe driving.”
Primary study support is provided by the FIA’s 2018 Sid Watkins Scholar and RESCUE-RACER Study Coordinator Dr Naomi Deakin. Dr Deakin is a PhD student at Robinson College, where Professor Hutchinson is a fellow and Director of Studies for Clinical Medicine.
The goal of the study is to establish the symptoms and signs of concussion sustained in motorsport activity and to monitor their progression throughout recovery. The study uses a comprehensive battery of scientific tests and emerging technologies as objective assessments that can assist with concussion diagnosis and prognosis. Improved future care for head-injured racers could also translate into enhanced care for road-traffic collision victims from the general population.
“After an accident there is obvious concern for the individual, but a concussed driver also presents a po-tentially lethal risk to other competitors as well as spectators and crew,” says Dr Deakin.“We hope that our study will lead to evidenced-based, medical decision-making protocols for track-side evaluation after potentially concussive incidents, as well as enabling a plan for clinical management of motorsport concussion, including the important ‘return-to-race’ decision.”
The RESCUE-RACER (Research Evaluating Sports ConcUssion Events – Rapid Assessment of Con-cussion and Evidence for Return) programme is funded by the FIA Foundation and supported by the FIA and Neurolign. It is jointly sponsored by the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which comprises Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Rosie Maternity Hospital.
More information about the study can be found on its website: bit.ly/RESCUE-RACER