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Danica Patrick talks about concussions

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Danica Patrick spoke members of the media Wednesday at Daytona 500 media day:

WHEN YOU SEE WHAT DALE JR. HAS GONE THROUGH TO GET BACK, WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND? HAVE YOU EVER HAD ANY CONCUSSION ISSUES?

"I've had concussions. Every time you crash you have a concussion on a varying degree, I'm sure. So when he said something about having 12 concussions I was like, 'Oh, I'm sure I've had 12 concussions.' It is a little bit thought-provoking is what I would say, for sure, because while we're not football players, we don't get the repeated hits like in succession over a short amount of time, but it's rough in the car and the hits are probably singularly bigger maybe. I don't actually know. I'd be assuming that. I'm just assuming that going 200 miles an hour or 150 miles an hour has to be a fairly big hit compared to running, but, then again, we have a lot of protective layers, whether it be SAFER barriers, the collapsible items on the car that all are meant to take the inertia, and then all the safety equipment that we have from the helmet and HANS and the belts, but it makes you think, for sure. It makes you pay attention to yourself and I think there's nothing better than having somebody like Dale Jr. going so far as to get out of the car for as long as he did and saying, 'Hey, I have a problem,' because it makes it more available for everyone else. Now, I don't think anyone else has as much luxury sponsorship-wise as Dale Jr. probably does to be able to just get out of the car like that, but it also is coming from a big-name driver that is setting the standard for well-being and it's admirable. I think we like to sweep it all under the rug as drivers like we feel fine and nothing is wrong, but it's our life. If there was someone that told me or I would hope any other driver if you have another wreck you could have a serious problem, they would be out. I would be out because I love what I do, but I love lots of other things and I also love life and I'm too young to have it be over, so it's a good lesson for a lot of people and a good education. Just like in that movie Concussion, which is something that we watched after it happened, maybe there will be some more tests and things run to be able to test better and know more about our concussions and our symptoms and how it happens over time."

HOW DOES THAT LESSON IMPACT YOU IN TERMS OF MOVING FORWARD AND WHAT MORE CAN YOU DO?

"That's a good question because one step is observing and seeing what's happening and then the next step is what do you do about it? That is a good question. I think that, number one for me, it's going to be taking note of symptoms and being really aware, which I feel like I'm pretty good at that. I would almost call myself hyper-sensitive just because of how much I take care of myself with food and working out. I feel very, very perceptive as to any little change in my body, but hopefully it puts NASCAR in a position and the safety team into a position where they start to address it differently from a recording information standpoint or data or testing of some sort. There are some different protocols now for getting out of the car and stuff like that, but it's a good question. The question is, what can we do? You just be aware of your symptoms and be honest."

HAVE YOU EVER JUMPED BACK IN THE CAR AFTER A BIG IMPACT AND DRIVEN WHEN MAYBE YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE?

"That's a good question, too. No, I wouldn't say I have. I have always felt fine. I've never driven when I feel like I'm not in the right situation, although I took too much Sudafed one time last year and I was like, 'Whoa, don't do that again.' So I learned that lesson, and I was really fast in practice. Actually, it wasn't Sudafed, it was DayQuil."

WHERE WAS THAT?

"Martinsville."

(Ford Performance)