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May 15, 2014 | By Verizon IndyCar Series
Verizon IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe, who was diagnosed with a concussion resulting from an incident during the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10, was cleared to resume driving duties after being re-evaluated May 15 by the INDYCAR medical team.
Hinchcliffe passed the post-concussion ImPACT test, according to INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Michael Olinger, one of the elements required to be cleared to return to the racetrack in an Andretti Autosport-prepared car.
ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the most-widely used and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system. All Verizon IndyCar Series drivers complete the ImPACT test, which includes medical history and six modules, before the season to provide a baseline.
Hinchcliffe retook the neurocognitive test section, which includes verbal recognition memory, design memory, visual processing speed, symbol matching, color matching and three-letter memory.
E.J. Viso, who competed for the team in 2013, filled in for Hinchcliffe in practice for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 11-15 in the No. 27 United Fiber & Data car. Viso, who topped the speed chart May 13 (224.488 mph), logged 250 laps on the 2.5-mile oval before a mid-afternoon engine change was required, which delayed Hinchcliffe's return to the car. He took one installation lap and is looking forward to being in the car for the six-hour session May 16.
"It’s been a long couple of days sitting at home and not even really watching. I was banned from electronics and I was getting little updates and snippets here and there, and that made it tougher because you don’t know exactly what’s going on," said Hinchcliffe, 27, of Toronto. "But I knew everyone was running and I was sitting at home.
"Getting better was the No. 1 goal and the effort we put into that is paying off because we ever surprised the doctors with how quickly we’ve been able to come back. All of the testing has been good and everything we’ve done is pointing in the right direction, so I’m feeling good. I woke up Sunday with a little bit of a headache, but other than that, not bad at all. I did a really intense day of resting, which is kind of an oxymoron, but a lot of sitting around. My girlfriend (Kirsten Dee) and my sister (Rebecca) and my family were there and they took really good care of me and made sure I didn’t have to lift a finger."
Hinchcliffe, who has three victories in 54 Verizon IndyCar Series starts, was cleared May 13 to begin light training.
“By Monday, I was feeling myself. I felt 100 percent," he added. "We knew we needed to take time and make sure. Wednesday I just went lightly to make sure my head was fine with the heart rate and this morning I got back in the gym and working a little harder and got that heart rate threshold up to where it would be in the car and everything was great.
"I did some reaction training and I was on the upper end of average of the previous runs and then came (to the Speedway) for the ImPACT Test. That was the toughest thing knowing it was kind of make or break and seeing everyone driving. It was the first time I’d been here for any on-track activity and it was tough to watch but it’s all come good.
"I really want to thank everyone at INDYCAR Safety, INDYCAR Medical and IU Health for their great care. Also, to Jim Leo with PitFit Training for helping with the rehabilitation, and, of course, a big thanks to E.J. and the team for all the hard work during practice. The car looks fast and I can't wait to get out there and get up to speed."