James Hinchcliffe Phoenix IndyCar practice crash
James Hinchcliffe smacks the wall in Phoenix during practice in 2016. | Photo: Chris Jones / INDYCAR

In its continuing efforts to prioritize driver safety, INDYCAR has implemented a revised concussion protocol that utilizes a recently approved clinical eye-tracking test to more accurately assess concussion-like symptoms.

The I-Portal Portable Assessment Test, known colloquially as the “goggles test,” looks like a virtual reality headset but isn’t used to play games. Instead, it runs non-invasive oculomotor, vestibular and reaction time tests on patients who demonstrate symptoms of dizziness and other symptoms related to concussions and migraines.

The use of the I-PAS system in response to an on-track incident will be prompted by feedback from first responders as well as driver feedback. Combined with the driver’s ear accelerometer data, the likelihood of a concussion can be reliably determined.

In addition to helping diagnose concussions in drivers who’ve experienced a crash, the I-PAS system will also be key in deciding whether a driver is fit to return to the race car.

Dr. Terry Trammell with INDYCAR concussion goggles
Dr. Terry Trammell presents the I-PAS system during a press conference at IMS. | Photo: Joe Skibinski / INDYCAR

INDYCAR’s history with I-PAS technology dates back to the 2016 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg where Will Power made contact with a concrete barrier in the opening practice session. Power went on to win the pole position the next day but began experiencing concussion-like symptoms afterward. When he did not improve, Power voluntarily removed himself from competition. Later, he was assessed with the I-PAS system which determined that he was not concussed, leading to an inner ear infection diagnosis.

Due to its success with Power, INDYCAR gradually rolled out the I-PAS system throughout 2017 before electing to make it a part of the concussion protocol in 2018. It is also a required component of INDYCAR’s driver fitness assessment that is conducted prior to the start of each season.

I-PAS was developed by Neuro Kinetics, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based firm. The company will work with INDYCAR on projects that combine the results of I-PAS tests with the data collection tools present in every Indy car to advance concussion research.

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