Concussion: Eventing riders urged to follow guidelines

Helmets can help prevent other injuries, but not concussion, researchers say.
© Mike Bain

Scientific research into head injuries has led to British Eventing adopting several findings regarding concussion into its rules.

Eventing has joined several other sports in changing their rules in relation to concussion following the International Symposium on Sports in Zurich in November 2012.

British Eventing Chief Medical Officer, Dr Judith Johnson and BEF Chief Medical Officer and Chair of the FEI Medical Committee Dr Peter Whitehead, are working to explain the rules to riders regarding concussion.

All riders suffering from concussion will be suspended for 21 days. In the past it was thought that concussion could be graded but research now shows this not to be the case. A rider with slight confusion after a minor fall may have symptoms which persist for several days or even weeks, whereas a rider who is knocked out may recover fully after a few days.

BE also recognise the condition of “delayed concussion” where symptoms which are not immediately apparent develop hours or even days after an accident. The new rules state that a rider with suspected concussion should be re-examined 2 hours after the incident and failure to present to the event doctor for re-examination of a suspected concussion will result in 21 day suspension until clarification of the diagnosis can be made.

The Symposium focused on up to date practice in recognising concussion, knowing when to refer for expert advice and updating medical personnel on the management of sports concussion. BE urged all stakeholders to read and observe the guidelines on the Concussion Recognition Tool. It is important to recognise the seriousness of concussion not only in competition, but also when teaching or riding at home.

Recurrent concussion is cumulative. If occurring before full recovery from a previous incident, may cause permanent brain damage. Concussion and loss of consciousness should not be confused; concussion can result from injuries other than to the head, with no loss of consciousness involved, it may, for instance, result from a jolt to the spine, or from a deceleration injury.

British Eventing rules 9.3.1 & 9.3.3 on fitness to compete after concussion reflect this in the current BE Members’ Handbook.


Consensus statement on concussion in sport: the 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport (PDF 3.8MB)

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