Horse riders beware: head injury symptoms can take days to show

March 13, 2010

Helmets are becoming more common in all equestrian disciplines.

As horse riders around the world strap on helmets following news of the injuries to dressage Olympian Courtney King-Dye, a hospital in Texas is warning that it can take days for the symptoms of a brain injury to show.

King-Dye is recovering from a fractured skull following a fall from a horse in early March. She was not wearing a helmet at the time.

The Methodist Hospital in Houston says that the sooner an injured person receives medical attention, the better chance they have for recovery.

Head injuries are the result of trauma to the scalp, skull or brain. Concussion, the most common type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), is an injury that occurs after a blow to the head and results in a temporary loss of consciousness. Some head injuries may appear to be mild but research has shown that concussions may have serious, long-term effects, especially when there are repeated injuries.

Moderate or severe traumatic brain injury is more serious than a concussion. Someone who suffers a TBI may appear fine after an accident or blow to the head, but this type of brain injury can be life-threatening because the brain can swell or have bleeding on the surface. If not treated, irreversible brain damage or death can occur.

It is extremely important that someone who suffers a head injury be monitored closely. Many of the patients treated at the Methodist Neurological Institute (NI) show no signs of brain trauma immediately after experiencing a head injury. It can take a few hours or even days for symptoms of brain injury to appear.

Many of the patients treated may not know the symptoms they experience are signs of brain trauma:

The sooner someone with brain trauma receives medical attention, the better chance they have for recovery.

A doctor at the Methodist Hospital said most of the injuries treated could have been prevented. People can significantly reduce their chances of developing brain trauma by taking the necessary safety precautions: