Horse-Riding Top Cause of Sports-Related Brain Injuries


Various contact sports have recently been gaining press coverage for their contribution to brain injury figures in both adults and children. Football and hockey have both been involved in contentious debates as to their level of risk for players, however a recent study has found that neither of these sports is the top cause of sports-related brain injuries.

Horse riding, a non-contact sport, has in fact been labelled the activity that has contributed the most cases of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in adults. The study, carried out by the Journal of Neurosurgery, based its research on the National Trauma Databank’s data between the years of 2003 and 2012.

When looking at the stark numbers, equestrian sports was the cause of a massive 45.2 percent of TBIs in adults, leaving other contact sports such as football and soccer causing a much lower 20.2 percent of traumatic brain injuries. Although this study focussed on adults, other studies have claimed that although equestrian-related injuries are a cause high in the list of TBIs in children, the main cause remains falls and hits like those you would get from contact sports.

Evidence from The Spinal Cord Society demonstrates that head injuries which occur while riding outnumber spinal cord injuries five to one and of all riding activities, jumping causes the most injuries. Horses are large and powerful animals, with strength and speed on their side. However well trained a horse is, they can be highly unpredictable and this creates a very large risk factor when riding. Riders are, on average, sat at around four feet off the ground at any time, and this paired with the strength of the horse can suggest the potential dangers.

How do I keep my family safe while horse-riding?

Horse-riding is a popular camp and summer-weather activity. Regardless of your experience, managing a horse can be dangerous to even the most well-practiced rider. The first step in staying safe whilst riding horses is to have the correct education and an experienced instructor to teach you. Horse-riding isn’t something that can be learned through simply watching YouTube videos or reading a book; it requires actual physical practice.

Although often expensive, hiring a professional instructor is crucial in creating the safest environment for you to learn how to ride horses. It is recommended that it is of ‘utmost importance’ that trainers keep learners under surveillance for a prolonged period of time to ensure they are capable to ride without supervision. It is also crucial to have effective and appropriate protective gear and equipment to ensure that any injury is minimized and avoided where it can be.

Remaining sensible when riding horses might sound a silly suggestion, but it can be too easy to get ahead of yourself when socializing, and injuries will happen when caution isn’t considered. Always make sure you are around people who know how to ride, and ensure less-experienced riders aren’t getting carried away.

Horses and summer camp

So many summer camps will offer children and young people the opportunity to ride horses, and this is a great experience for all to take part in. If you’re concerned about your child riding whilst at camp, you can always do some research into the camp and find some information about their instructors and horses to ensure health and safety guidelines are adhered to.

Although horse-riding can be dangerous, it is important to remember that when practised safely and all precautions are taken seriously, it is a fulfilling and enjoyable hobby and sport. Like with any other sport, there will always be variables you cannot control in a situation. However, as long as you respect the risk and act with appropriate caution, you are minimizing the chances of any injury occurring.

If you or a loved one was injured on a property that did not provide proper precautions or equestrian equipment, you may be entiled to compensation for the medical expenses you incurred. Click to chat to find out whether your incident qualifies for legal support.

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Topics: News, Sports & Activities, Traumatic Brain Injury

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