Rodeo riders would benefit from a return-to-play (RTP) protocol such as those being introduced into other high-contact sports, US concussion researchers say.
After reviewing literature on concussion in rodeo, US researchers Alissa Wicklund, Shayla Foster and Ashley Roy found that, despite a high incidence of injury in their sport, rodeo athletes were underrepresented in research. No standard post-concussion protocols are available across rodeo organizations for evaluating fitness to return to competition.
They also pointed out the “unique barriers” that complicated the management and treatment of rodeo athletes with concussion, such as “the solo nature of the sport, lack of consistent access to health care professionals, and athletic conditioning that often occurs outside of a traditional gym-based exercise regimen”.
Their findings have been published in the Journal of Athletic Training.
“In addition, the rodeo culture encourages a swift return to competition after injury.”
They said that best practices for managing concussion were removal from activity, proper diagnostic evaluation, and gradual return to sport, with medical clearance when an athlete is symptom free and able to tolerate cognitive and physical exertion. An RTP protocol for rodeo events needs to capture the distinctive features and challenges of the sport and its athletes.
“Rodeo athletes represent a sport population that has received little formal guidance on the diagnosis, management, and RTP after concussion. A sport-specific RTP protocol sensitive to the particular culture of these athletes is an important first step in protecting the health and safety of rodeo athletes after a concussive injury.”
They said rodeo athletes could benefit from an RTP protocol that can be initiated by an athletic trainer or medical professional in the acute stage of injury. Such a protocol would integrate exercise into activities of daily living, and be appropriate for athletes who travel frequently.
“At the organizational sport level, a formal RTP protocol could enhance consistency in medical-clearance techniques among providers responsible for the return to sport of rodeo athletes.”
Alissa Wicklund is a neuropsychologist and a sports concussion specialist at the Orthopaedic and Spine Center of the Rockies, OCR Regional Concussion Center in Fort Collins, Colorado. Athletic trainer Shayla Foster is also with the OCR center, and Ashley Roy is with the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio.
Getting Back on the Horse: Sport-Specific Return to Play in Rodeo Athletes After Concussion Injury. A Wicklund, SD Foster, AA Roy. J Athl Train. 2018 Jul;53(7):657-661. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-310-17