IPS: Kentucky: Jason Priestley medical condition press conference

Jason Priestley Medical Update Dr. Henry Bock Dr. Steve Stapczinski 5 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 11, 2002 Moderator: Thank you for joining us. We wanted to bring Dr. Bock in here and give you an update on Jason Priestley's condition. We also have Dr.

Jason Priestley Medical Update
Dr. Henry Bock
Dr. Steve Stapczinski

5 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 11, 2002

Moderator: Thank you for joining us. We wanted to bring Dr. Bock in here and give you an update on Jason Priestley's condition. We also have Dr. Steve Stapczinski from the track, director of medical services at the track. Dr. Henry Bock is the director of medical services with the Indy Racing League. They have time to spend a few minutes talking about Jason's condition. We'll start with Dr. Bock, if he can update us on that condition.

Dr. Henry Bock: I'd like you all to keep in mind that what we're getting from the hospital is sort of secondhand from the hospital, even though we get it from the doctors at the hospital. Keep that in mind. He's still undergoing evaluation there, will probably undergo evaluation for the next 12 hours or so. These kind of things change in a hurry, sometimes from good to bad and bad to good. Fortunately, our most recent information was that Mr. Priestley was responding more to questions. He cannot speak because he is intubated at this time. The reason that he's intubated at this time is to keep him quiet and sedated and help him breathe. He is certainly breathing on his own. But his condition has stabilized. His vital signs have been stable since he left here. The only life support, if you can call it that, is the respirator he's on. He's able to breathe on his own, it's just an assistance to him. His injuries, starting at his head, he certainly has a closed-head injury. Whether that's a concussion at this time, I think we would call it that. We have no indication from any of the scans that he's had that he has any further damage to his head. Again, time will tell on that when he wakes up. He also has fractures to both of his feet and he has a fracture to one of the vertebrae in his spine up in the chest at the T8 level. This may or may not require surgery to take care of it. Other than that, everything else seems to be stabilized on him. He did suffer some damage to his face. He broke his nose during the crash. Again, that's all being evaluated for further treatment at this time.

Moderator: We can open it up for questions.

Q: Is paralysis an issue?

Bock: Certainly nothing we know at this point. He was moving all his extremities down there. When you have a spine fracture, of course, that's something you worry about. There is no indication that his spinal cord itself has been damaged in any way.

Q: Are you able to determine the speed and g-force at this time?

Bock: Part of that, of course, comes from the boxes. We will download those, put that together with our data from still pictures and from motion pictures, put that together in the next couple of days.

Q: Are injuries of this sort mostly angle of impact?

Bock: I'm not sure what you mean by that.

Q: He went fairly directly into the wall.

Bock: It looked that his second angle was directly into the wall. His first angle was not. His first angle was about 20 degrees. His second angle, of course, he hit nose on into the wall. So it's a stopping injury, of course. We know it was a severe stop or a severe injury from that opponent of view.

Q: Were you the first doctor on the scene?

Bock: I was not. It happened right in front of one of the safety trucks out there. From that point on, our safety trucks got there. I was still in the medical center, so I got out there late, before he was extricated.

Q: Talk about how the IRL Medical Services interacts with the track's medical team.

Bock: We, of course, bring some of our own doctors, nurses, paramedics along. Our action really is one of rescue services on the racetrack, "rescue" meaning get the driver out of the car, make sure the driver has some sense of stability to them, that the ventilation is supported. Once we get that driver out of the car, he goes into Dr. Stapczinski's, so to speak. His doctors and his nurses take care of him in there. I will stress to you, though, that it really is a team effort, as any multiple trauma victim may be, whether it be here at the racetrack or down at the trauma center. We all worked together on resuscitating and stabilizing him before he was sent off to the hospital.

Q: Is he communicating in any other way?

Bock: I guess you really have to spend time in an intensive care unit or watch people who communicate with people who can't speak. Certainly he has his eyes open, looks around. He will follow commands if somebody asks him to do something. That's our understanding from the hospital.

Q: From everything you know at this point, how long do you think his recovery will take?

Bock: I think that would really be speculation at this point. As I said, he's still undergoing evaluation. That will go on for a period of hours yet. So we're happy where he is at this point. Probably somewhere within the next couple of days we'll know more about that.

Q: Is he in surgery right now?

Bock: He is not.

Q: Has he undergone surgery?

Bock: Not to my knowledge.

Q: Could we call that spinal injury a broken back?

Bock: Yeah, I guess you could call it a broken back. The technical name is it's a "burst fracture," if that helps you, of the spinal vertebra. I don't know how to say it better than that.

Q: Where is it? Can you show?

Bock: If I could reach back there, I could. About right here in the back.

Q: (Inaudible)?

Bock: This is T8, T for thoracic. It's in the back of his chest. That's why it's called that. C is for cervical vertebrae, of course, and T is for thoracic.

Q: Was there any consideration taking Mr. Priestley to one of the local hospitals or was his condition such that you decided to airlift him to UK?

Dr. Steve Stapczinski: He definitely met criteria for a trauma center. From the closed-head injury alone, obviously he's a multiple trauma patient, and they're best evaluated at trauma centers.

Q: Can you give us a perspective on these injuries, fractures?

Bock: Both of his fractures are rather complicated fractures. I don't know which one is which. One involves sort of the base of the foot and ankle, and the other involves the mid-foot. But, no, they were closed fractures. Mr. (Davey) Hamilton's problems were aggravated by circulatory problems because of the severe crushing injuries.

Q: Not as bad as Davey?

Bock: No.

Moderator: It's highly unlikely we'll get more reports tonight, unless there's something after surgery. We'll do some updates first thing in the morning.

Bock: Richie Hearn is on his way to Indianapolis to get operated on this evening. He also had a rather severe injury to his ankle, to his right ankle, I believe, that will require surgery this evening.

Q: Can you talk about the injured crew member in the race?

Bock: Steve, can you answer that?

Stapczinski: It's an open fracture. It ends at his shin, both bones were broken. One of the pieces of bone was sticking out through the skin. He was otherwise very stable, and, other than some other bumps and bruises, he was fine. We were able to reduce the fracture, get him splinted, treat him for pain, and then he was shipped off to the hospital.

Q: With surgery, what is his recovery time probably?

Stapczinski: Somewhat speculative. It's going to be several weeks before he's able to put any weight on that.

-irl/ips

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Richie Hearn , Jason Priestley