Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Jerry Nadeau, ‘School of Hard Knocks’ TBI Expert (#NASCAR)

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), a form of acquired brain injury, occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. 

Rescue crews work to extract Jerry Nadeau after a practice crash
at Richmond on May 2, 2003. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

NASCAR Race Mom loves almost everything about racing. However, as the mother of a racer, I was and am hypersensitive to racing injuries. I still remember the churning in my stomach when my son Moses was on the track . . . . . “please keep everyone competitive but safe.”

One of NASCAR Race Mom’s favorite piece of racing equipment is the ‘Head and Neck Support’ (HANS) Device. NRM is old enough to remember the racing era without them.

Did you know that while a helmet may protect the skull from cracking upon impact, it does not stop the brain from moving about in the liquid cerebral fluids surrounding it? This movement causes much of the brain damages involved in concussions. The HANS device assures that the driver’s helmeted head moves with his torso, so vulnerable neck and skull bones aren’t overloaded.

Nadeau after 2000
NAPA 500 Win
Nevertheless, even with the HANS* and other protection improvements like the SAFER Barrier (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction), Traumatic Brain Injuries still loom in the forefront for race athletes.

You could call Jerry Nadeau a ‘school of hard knocks’ expert on the topic. At the age of thirty-two, while a driver for MB2 Motorsports, Nadeau crashed his Sprint Cup car during practice at the Richmond International Raceway.

He suffered a traumatic brain injury, four broken ribs and a collapsed lung. The doctors placed Jerry in a medically induced coma for twenty days.

When asked about the first thing he remembered after the accident, Nadeau responded, “I remember kind of waking up in the hospital and watching a race on TV and wondering why someone else was driving my car. However, I was in a fog for a long time. When they took me in the shower, I was trying to figure out why they were washing me. . . . I just did not have a sense of what was going on. I was watching people doing stuff and helping me . . . . there were phones and noise and just a lot of commotion. I am much better now, but I still feel that I am kind of in that fog. “

Even after sixteen years, Jerry Nadeau reports that his left side remains numb; almost like that feeling you get when your leg “falls asleep.” At the time, his crash (May 2, 2003) was the hardest impact measured by the NASCAR black-box data recorder. One of the hardest facts for Jerry to come to terms with is that the crash that ended his promising Sprint Cup Career happened only months before Richmond installed SAFER barriers at the track. He believes that if they had been there, he would have “walked away.”

Jerry Nadeau has been keeping busy and using his life experiences to help others. Just yesterday, he participated in a function with Ricky Rudd (retired NASCAR Driver) and Thomas Davis (Outside Linebacker for the Carolina Panthers) to speak in front of five hundred medical professionals.

Friday he is off to San Antonio to do a ‘ride and drive’ for Honda. Nadeau also works for an organization called B.R.A.K.E.S.**, which is a teenage driving school. Whatever he can do to help, Jerry Nadeau does.

“I think the average NASCAR fan should know that every TBI patient is different,” Jerry informed. “It is almost like a computer; some computers are slow, some lock up, some can’t punch a certain number on the keyboard . . . . with TBI there is something not totally right up top. We do things uniquely and differently, which is really kind of cool . . . . but the hardest thing is that we cannot always do the things we love to do . . . which for me was racing.”

Joseph "Joey" Gase Is Currently Twenty-Third in the Xfinity Point Standings

MDR Motorsports is coordinating a new sponsorship with Joey Gase,*** a #NASCAR Xfinity Racer, by sponsoring his rear bumper for the May Charlotte Xfinity race!

This project is in cooperation with "Caring Hands Village LLC"  of North Carolina, and part of their goal is to bring publicity and awareness to the Donate Life & Traumatic Brain Injury groups of North Carolina!

You can place your name, or the name of a loved one on Joey Gase's car with just a $25.00 donation. A $150 donation will get your business name with logo on the car to support this worthy cause.

Click Here for More Details

Racecar drivers have sustained head injuries in crashes for decades.  Many are still grappling with the effects, which include memory loss, mood swings, irritability, difficulty walking and depression. Here is your opportunity to help.

Click Here for TBI Resources

NASCAR Race Mom’s photo (woman in red cowboy hat)
is prominently displayed on Joey Gase’s Race Car

* Starting in October 2001, NASCAR mandated either the HANS or Hutchens device head and neck restraint be used, going with the HANS device exclusively starting in 2005.

**B.R.A.K.E.S., which stands for ‘Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe,’ was started by drag racer Doug Herbert after his two boys were killed in a car accident. “It’s a four-hour driving clinic and the students get to learn how to drive cars,” Nadeau said. “We put them in precarious scenarios, with skid pads and wheel drop zones, so they really get to learn. It’s really well-run and I think every teen should go through it before they get out on the road.”

***Joey Gase’s mother, Mary Jo, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm in April 2011. Just eighteen at the time, Joey made the courageous decision to donate her organs.  Joey regularly makes appearances at hospitals and donor awareness-related events. In the past year alone, he has advocated for organ, tissue and eye donation at more than 100 events, has been featured as a member of the Donate Life float in the Festival of Roses Parade, been featured on ESPN multiple times and done dozens of stories for local television, radio and newspaper outlets.

1 comment:

Caring Hands Village said...

We support everyone going through a traumatic injury or surgery. Caring Hands Village non-profit organization is so you can come rest your head while you are in Charlotte and you will have the support you need to concentrate on getting through your journey.