Bad Concussion - How long until you were riding seriously again?
Sigh! So I had just healed from a leg injury and was schooling for a show when I decided it would be a good idea to jump up my horse's neck in order to try and leave out a stride.
My horse, being the saint that she is, kindly added a stride and jumped anyway instead of dumping me on the jump like she had every right to do.
However I was already too far up her neck and took a huge nose dive anyway, landing on my lower back first and then whipping backwards to crack the back of my head (yes I had a helmet on) on the ground quite hard.
I didn't realize exactly how hurt I was until I got home. What followed was what the doctors called post-concussion syndrome and a badly strained neck and back. I was dizzy, nauseas, had terrible headaches and could barely make it through the day without a nap and tons of painkillers.
So it's been a month and a half now and I just had my first ride (and yes I have a brand new helmet and clearance from the doc). I'm still having some headaches and neck pain, but all I did was walk and trot and I felt fine.
However I feel like it's going to take me 6 months to get back to where I was at this point, and it's very disappointing.
Does anyone have any advice for me? How long until you felt normal after a bad concussion, and how long did it take you to get back to jumping and competing?
I will mention that this is not my first concussion. The last one actually knocked me out, but I healed quite quickly and was showing again 3 weeks later. I was a bit younger then though.
PaintPony-I bet it took me a good 6 months to feel completely healed after my concussion. I was decked in the barnyard (gravel) by a stall rest crazed loose horse-ran right over me and knocked me out cold. My husband found me still out. I remember the mare's knees hitting me in the chest, and then being in the ER-nothing in between. The concussion and a few cuts on the back of my head were the only injuries.
I had headaches several times a day, especially when I did too much and got tired, which was easy to do. Ice compresses on the back of my head helped.
I came off on 19 Sep. 08. Was out for three min. (+/-). Been MRIed once, CATscaned thrice. No sequellae noted. Started back yesterday. Most of the delay coming from REALLY sore ribs and some lower back pain. No headaches or other head issues.
I think it's pretty much individual. Let the doc give you advice and then follow it.
My concussion included seven skull fractures and a burst-out eardrum, and was classified as a closed head injury. I couldn't ride for six months. It took a good six or seven years before it was all back to normal, and 13 years later I still have to take medication every day for vertigo.
Don't push yourself. Your body will absolutely tell you if you are overdoing it.
I could ride again in a few months. Ride as in sit on the horse and go around. But I shouldn't have been doing that even (had dr ok too). It was fully a year before the foggy brain, tiredness and assorted other fun things went away for good. Headaches from any kind of concentrating, yeah that was fun. I had to keep working (ran a 45 horse lesson barn) but it was all I could do some days to get through the day.
Your body will tell you. Don't be surprised if it takes much longer than you want or think it should. I was 36 when I got hurt. Head injuries suck. I'm glad you were wearing your helmet!!
edit to add... I was riding productively at 7 months or so. I kept going up to that point but was really just a passenger and lucky I had the horse I did at the time to take care of me.
I have had Three head traumas. I can tell you that your brain is STILL bruised and in recovery. DO NOT RUSH IT! 4 years it took me to get my STM back after the last injury. To this day I still have problems! 1 Bike accident 2 head hitting cement after slipping on ice. 0 horse related! Thank GOD! DO NOT RUSH YOUR BRAIN!
My Mom is in a nursing home recovering from Traumatic brain injury that happened last January - just a month after she had a head injury in December. She can no longer walk because of it! DO NOT SCREW WITH YOUR BRAIN! Both injuries were from falling down the stairs in her own home.
When the DOCTOR says ok - then ride!!!
"If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"
The CT's only show blatant vascular damage, not the "fine injury" that accompanies concussion.......
If it does not increase with activity, that is a good sign.......
That said, IMO,
the signs you are describing clearly indicate you are not recovered from the trauma of the second concussion.
Time frame/age is not relevant based on severity of first concussion. It is what is going now that matters.
Sport does not matter...activity is activity, sign and symptoms are signs and symptoms.
It will help you decide if/when you should seek further advice.
The clincher would be latent problems with focusing/concentration and balance.
If so, definitely stay off the horse, get informed and if need be, referral to someone with more experience managing concussion.
And for anyone interested, the MTBI guru's are meeting in Switzerland this week. New guidelines will be coming shortly.
Like the others, my advice is not to rush it. It will take quite a while for your brain to heal, and while it is, it's very vulnerable. If your doctor doesn't know what's involved in jumping or your other equine activities, find one who does, and follow his or her advice.
I suffered a mild concussion on Dec. 30 of last year. Broke my helmet, too. I never really lost consciousness, but would have taken a "standing 10" in a boxing ring. I walked, I talked, and I climbed back on the horse. I remember nothing about the ride. Nothing. Certainly not getting back on, but believe the woman who told me two months later that I did.
Here we are, 10 months later, and I am not as smart, or as able, as I was before. I may never regain the function I had before. I hope I do, because my brain power is how I make my living.
I am 2.5 years out from the one that caused the symptoms I noticed. I really think that one was just the straw that broke the camel's back though. I still have issues with confusion, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, seizures, muscle spasms, noise sensitivity, motion sickness...
That being said, I was back on my horse 3 months after the injury. Should I have been? Probably not. Should I be riding now? Probably not. But I would rather die falling off a horse than live the rest of my life not riding.
It can take the brain years to heal. Some people feel better after a year, some after 3 or 5 or 10 years, and some never return to normal. Age is not that much of a factor either once you are an adult, and even with kids if the wrong part of the brain is injured, they may have lifelong issues. Every injury is different.
One thing I can say is that I ALWAYS ride with a helmet, and I made sure to get a skull cap that fits my head. If it wobbles, it does not fit and will not protect you. It should also come down low in the back. Look for one that it Kitemarked, as the standards are higher than the ASTM/SEI standards. Mine is a Charles Owen J3, and I love it. It is lightweight and cool in the summer. I forget I am wearing it half the time.
Yeah the first thing I did when I could drive was go have a new helmet fitted. It's a Charles Owen and fits me like a second skin. I LOVE it.
And when I say I rode, what that really entailed was me walking around in the indoor for 10 minutes and then trotting around twice. Looks like I may be doing that for a while.
My horse looks like a fat marshmallow and feels like one too. I'm sure she's enjoying the break. Anyone want a free hunter horse to ride? Don't be put off by my injury - it was totally my fault and the horse is a saint!
I was in a car accident - hit by a drunk driver - 6 months ago. I was home from college for the summer, so I didn't have access to a horse for 4 months. I had to go through speech therapy and all sorts of fun stuff. The first time I got back on was nerve wracking. I was told that for 2-3 years after you've had a concussion, you're more susceptible to them. They can also have more of an effect on you as you incur multiple concussions.
I was holding my breath for most of the ride, afraid that I'd fall off and hit my head and start all over from the beginning. The horse was perfect, though, and gradually that fear has decreased - though it's still in the back of my head. I too had balance problems, extreme fatigue, confusion, memory loss, difficulty speaking, and migraine headaches. I still "ride" for half an hour in a very small ring at the walk, and sometimes trotting. All I can say is take it slow, and be careful - your balance may be off and you might not even realize it until you need it. I figure my chances of falling off when jumping vs falling off when trotting around the ring are greater, so I'm going to stay away from the jumping for a while. It all really comes down to your individual case, though. Hang in there!
PaintPony- I did the EXACT same thing last Sept. 07. Knocked out cold, did the CT scan, MRI, full xrays. I had migranes for several months, had a few seizures, but they are gone, nasty mood swings, tired, very tired. I also deal with the top neurologist in Canada. I was told that I can't ride for 2 YEARS.
Of course I didn't listen, but I am not showing or jumping at the moment, because I know that I can't risk another fall at the moment. I am very picky about the horses that I ride.
BE CAREFUL! If you feel uneasy even for a fleeting moment, stop what you are doing. Your head isn't worth it.
I lost many of my memories that I wish I still had!
Just like everyone else has written so elequently, TAKE YOUR TIME!! Brain injuries are cumulative and are not to be taken lightly. Since you are still experiencing some significant symptoms it's obvious that your body is saying take it easy, let me heal.
I had concussion #5 March 2007 - only one horse related, too. I didn't mount up again until October 2007, a full 8 months, after the accident. Granted, I also broke my neck, the actual brain injury took at least as long to heal. I still have some remaining issues...my spelling skills have gone to hell in a hand basket, concentration is compromised, fatigue, depression, insomnia. I've come to terms that I'll never be able to play professional hockey and my boxing career is pretty much shot, too, and turning down that offer to quarterback for the Chargers was a bummer, but at least I haven't lost my sense of humor!
Take care of your head...it's the only one you have. Look at this time as an opportunity to practice patience and to do something special and meaningful for your well being.