“I had no idea that I had a concussion until I got sick at night and woke up with a bad headache that wouldn’t go away,” said eventer Mia Farley who fell at an event a few years ago and ended up with a bad concussion.
This story isn’t uncommon – concussion symptoms may not show up for hours or days after the impact. “Riders think ‘I have to be knocked out to get a concussion,’ or ‘I have to land on my head.’ Which is not true. You can land hard on your feet and it can still shake up the brain. It has nothing to do with losing consciousness. People also need to realize that the majority of concussions don’t happen in competition – they happen at home,” said Dr. Mark Hart, the U.S. Equestrian Team Physician and FEI Medical Committee Chair.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.6 to 3.8 million concussions occur in sports and recreational activities each year. Because all head injuries are potentially serious, it is important to recognize and properly treat them early. A 2016 study in the Journal of Neurosurgery found that equestrian-related sports accounted for 45.2 percent of sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI). And Dr. Hart said that reporting concussions is one of the biggest challenges – competitions are getting better at reporting, but people aren’t self-reporting at-home injuries.
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