Horse-related brain injuries among youth probed in Canadian study

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The researchers say that more work is required on the rider-horse partnership to identify the factors that made up a winning team within a given discipline.
Head injuries accounted for some 13% of horse-related injuries in under 19-year-olds presenting at Canadian hospitals in the past 25 years. © Mike Bain

Brain injuries accounted for 13.3 percent of all horse-related injuries among youth presenting at 15 Canadian emergency departments over a 25-year period, delegates at a recent sport concussion conference were told.

Delegates to the Sports Concussion Conference in Denver, Colorado, received a summary of the findings from the study, carried out by Ivona Berger, Mariam Shirazi, Michael Cusimano, Angela Lee and Steven McFaull.

The researchers set out to describe the incidence, characteristics, and mechanisms of equestrian-related brain injuries sustained amongst youth between 1990 and 2014.

They got their data from the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program database.

The study team counted 1060 brain injuries among youth, accounting for 13.3 percent of all equestrian-related injuries.

The greatest proportion of injuries occurred among individuals aged 15-19 years, followed by youngsters aged up to 4.

The most common cause of injury was falls. They found that 17.9 percent of individuals were admitted to hospital.

“Brain injuries sustained while participating in equestrian are often of a greater severity than injuries sustained while participating in other recreational activities,” the researchers concluded.

A clear understanding of the patterns, causes, effects and mechanisms of equestrian-related brain injuries must be achieved to effectively implement prevention efforts, they said.

The researchers, whose findings were published in the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, noted that the equestrian-related injury rate per number of riding hours was higher than motorcyclists and automobile racers.

“There is a lack of literature pertaining to equestrian-related brain injuries,” they said.

M Shirazi, MD Cusimano, I Berger, A Lee and S McFaull (2015). Equestrian-related brain injuries presenting to emergency departments, Canada, 1990-2014. Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences / Journal Canadien des Sciences Neurologiques, 42, pp S11-S12. doi:10.1017/cjn.2015.78.
The abstract can be read here

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