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About your concussion?

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  • About your concussion?

    I fell last weekend and it was serious enough to persuade my (very fabulous and breathtakingly effective [Pferdewirtschaftmeisterin, which I still cannot pronounce] rider/trainer) instructor to shop for a helmet as well as establish a rule that all mounted riders must wear helmets. The one I was wearing went in the trash.

    At 50+ having spent a life not only riding, but rollerblading, skiing, playing competitive ice hockey, and participating in other activities that can lead to falls, this isn't my first big boom.

    But it is the one where people in the ER shoved a bunch of papers at me during my departure that have a lot of scary info and counseled me not to drive while taking the pain medication.

    I stopped taking the pain meds before I went for a follow-up with my regular doctor who didn't say boo about staying off a horse for any amount of time. She agreed that my CAT scans looked normal and xrays showed no broken bones, just the regular amount of arthritis did a memory, balance and nerve test and sent me on my way to come back in 6 weeks for further evaluation. My instructions were moist heat for the muscle bruising, rest, and read another bunch of papers (which said most of the same things).

    I wish I was brave enough to tell my employer that the paper says I need to rest my brain by not thinking too hard, as well as rest physically, but in this economy I don't feel comfortable.

    However, my trainer has no such compunction about grounding me. I think her riding my horse is what's best for the horse right now (she's young and stupid-rider tricks affect her confidence) but I'd like to be able to do the walk warm-up and cool-down.

    How long before you got on again? What were your restrictions? And how did things work out for you?

  • #2
    Glad to here your trainer has learned that everyone should wear a helmet and hope she follows her own rules.

    Being a 60+ rider I know I've taken my share of concussions but in the olden days they weren't diagnosed as such unless you had been unconscious so we never really stopped riding. And it hasn't affectedddddddddd.............me at all.
    Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"


    • #3
      I only had a concussion when i was young, and got on the next day and rode. I suppose in the current climate of consciousness about brain injury etc, that would be considered the wrong thing to do.


      • #4
        I just got one on Tusday in a car accident. My Dr. Told me to wait a full week after my symptoms disappear to get on again. Argh! I'm so mad it is ruined my debut at PSG!


        • #5
          First, I'm so glad to hear you are ok. Second these days they caution to be very careful and not sustain another injury for at least six months. When my niece got one during soccer she was ordered to rest, no tv or reading, and no strenuous exercise for about six weeks.

          I'm also over 50 and had a bad fall recently (not off a horse this time), and got one myself. Was fortunately wearing a helmet, but of course now we know that the impact causes your brain to whack into your skull and sustain damage despite the helmet. I had headaches and some fuzzy thinking for a few weeks. Took a lot of Traumeel (didn't want to take ibuprofen and thin the blood), as I could feel my brain swelling inside my skull. Did a lot of tapping (EFT), and after a few weeks felt back to normal.

          I was riding again shortly after but with some apprehension as I kind of like my brain. Not sure I'd want to be on a greenie until more time had passed, but mine are pretty calm and sensible (as sensible as horses can be). So that's my experience FWIW.

          It sounds like your trainer is being more sensible than your Dr. Maybe the answer is somewhere between? Bottom line it's your brain and your decision (as long as you are thinking clearly enough to make one).

          Take good care of YOU!


          • #6
            I wonder if some helmets are better at absorbing shock and provide better protection against concussion than others?


            • #7
              I'm 52... I've had more than my share

              Add to that the fact that due to cranial surgery as an infant, I have less space between my brain and my skull than the average person.

              I wish there had been more information sooner, on the effects of multiple concussions, perhaps I would have started wearing a helmet every ride sooner (though you would think I'd have figured it out, wouldn't you?). As a very young teen, I made my money and paid for my horse habit by starting greenies and re-schooling problem horses. I came off a lot. Helmets were little more than decorative then anyway, but likely would have been better than nothing.

              While I will agree that as an adult, it is someone's choice or not to wear a helmet, anyone that doesn't insist the children in their life wear helmets is an idiot, and I mean that in the kindest way possible.

              I figured out sometime ago, that I make my living with my brain and though the body is aging in new and different, annoying little ways every day, I'm going to protect the brain as well as I possibly can.

              I can say that as I age, I notice it's harder to remember short term things than it used to be. I'm not sure if that is an effect of multiple concussions or simply the aging process, or a combination of both, but as a young person, I had a nearly photographic memory, and while my retention is still very good, it isn't as good as it once was.

              I think every concussion matters, no matter how mild.


              • #8
                A concussion is caused by the brain bouncing within the skull (layman's terms), which causes swelling - and if it bounces around AGAIN before it is healed, you have a worse injury. That is why you should stay off a horse - it is already a bouncy activity, and there is risk of worst bounce (falls). There are various levels of severity - I've had at least two, and in the 2nd, I also ended up with inter-cranial bleeding - talk about pain! Blood on open nerve endings, ouch.

                My first concussion came with other injuries - cross country jump gone bad - I kind of looked like hamburger, so I had to rest for a while. Second concussion I took more seriously though - got a lot of warnings from doctors about multiple concussions, blah, blah, blah.

                I'd take it seriously - you only have one brain, and all the research shows that multiple concussions cause long term issues. A real life example - Muhummad Ali - ended up with Parkinsons very early in life - probably result of too many blows to the head


                • #9
                  I am glad you were wearing a Helmet! Concussions are something to be taken seriously, give yourself time to heal before you ride again.

                  Last year I got a concussion when my horse fell while I was riding her. The hospital told me I could ride a week after the symptoms were gone which meant I took about 3 weeks off of riding.

                  Countrywood, I think if the helmets are certified, then the best protection depends on how the helmet fits, but the Riders 4 Helmets website has lots of great info on helmets, http://www.riders4helmets.com/catego...onal-articles/


                  • #10
                    It's probably mostly age-related. My memory (and that of all my friends) started going in my late thirties. Before I started re-riding. I have come off quite a bit since then; my first (recent) horse was a bit of a nut, and I have come off my current one a few times (has a buck in him under specific circumstances which I've learned to avoid).

                    I do think helmets make a difference. Tipperarys protect well, the low profile Ovations not so much.


                    • #11
                      Absolutely rest your brain as much as you can. ER staff isn't overreacting at all but I do believe you should listen to your trainer and not ride. Post concussive syndrome is very real. The worst thing right now would be for you to reinjure your brain.

                      There is a lot of excellent info on the net about this syndrome, but if you have access to uptodate.com do a search there. If not, if you would like, PM me and I will send you some stuff via email. Don't ride. Not worth it.

                      Good for you for wearing one, and for your trainer for changing her opinion. If you hadn't been, you probably wouldn't be posting. Glad you're ok.
                      LarkspurCO: no horse's training is complete until it can calmly yet expressively perform GP in stadium filled w/chainsaw juggling zombies riding unicycles while flying monkeys w/bottle rockets...


                      • #12
                        I had a fall with a concussion despite a helmet. I woke up in the ER and never did gain memory of 3 hours (including the entire ride, fall and transport to the ER).

                        It tool almost 4 weeks to think normal again and I URGE you to take time!! Any smallish bump or knock affect me even years later. Not to the same extend but I can feel it.

                        The issue with concussions is that they are not always painful and I did not have headaches but I could not "think" the way I usually do. It was like cotton in my brain and you need to let it heal and take it serious. Not just for now but for any future injuries and with horses, you'll get bumped, dumped or jollted sooner or later again.


                        • #13
                          A few years ago was hacking a young horse up a hard gravel drive and a tractor came zooming around the end of the barn. The horse became startled, ran backwards, tripped backwards and fell over on top of me in seconds. I woke up on the ground a few minutes later and the plastic Tipperary helmet I was wearing was cracked up the back, it no doubt saved my life. The ER doc gave me a lecture about how the helmet should have been more padded and since then I have splurged for much better fitting, quality helmets figuring I now have one less cat life left. He also forbid me riding for minimum 5 weeks because of the repetitive concussion and bounce from the movement of the trot. When I started back I did not ‘feel afraid’ of the horse that fell with me, but pain and muscle memory can be powerful things so I rode a friendly, chubby, non-bouncy school master for about 3 weeks to shake off any residual hesitations before getting back on the greeny. I felt foggy in the days immediately following but have not had any long term issues except an occasional sore neck. I originally could not even remember driving to the barn but after a few weeks I could recall up to the feeling of the horses hind end crumpling down underneath me. I took time physically and emotionally to make sure I could still enjoy the sport I love and I am really glad I did it. Best of luck to you in your recovery.


                          • #14
                            Two weeks for my 12 year old son on ice hockey. He was cleared by a neuro for him to play. Two weeks bare minimum.

                            Your lovely horse should be very well groomed by then...


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Emy View Post
                              The ER doc gave me a lecture about how the helmet should have been more padded and since then I have splurged for much better fitting, quality helmets figuring I now have one less cat life left.
                              Just curious what helmets you are using now --I am replacing mine and currently shopping.


                              • #16
                                I never wore a helmet most of my riding life, up until about 3ish years ago when I came off my problem child and bounced my bean off the hard ground. I got back on, but I was woozy and kept it short.

                                Came home, had a beer and immediately came here to type a vent it was a pretty big thread, its around here someplace .

                                Anyhow, a few hours later when the SO came home I started slurring my speech. Ruh roh.

                                A few months earlier, the actress whats-her-name had the incident where she hit a tree skiing, when to the DR and was cleared, and then 24 hours later was dead. So off to the ER I went and had my head examined.

                                I was cleared, never said anything about not riding, but a good friend had just finished editing a new book on concussions and she warned me 2 weeks is the minimum rest period. So I waited two weeks before riding again, and never not wore a helmet again.

                                A year ago I was riding a friends horse who unceremoniously dumped me over his neck, and for good measure clipped my helmeted head with a hind hoof as he traveled over the top of me. The force of the clip was enough to barrel roll my body, and split my helmet in half up the backside. My head ached, and while I didn't go to the ER I didn't ride again for 2 weeks.

                                I've known several people with Alzheimers, and my SO's brother just passed away from Parkinsons. I don't know if there is any relationship between repeated insults to the brain like concussions and these terrible diseases, but just the thought that there could be is enough for me to no longer be cavalier.
                                Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                                • Original Poster

                                  Thank you all for your experiences and good thoughts. It'll be a week today and I will stay off another week. I'm not sure how to determine "a week after being asymptomatic" because I get weird head rushes if I jump up and then sit down too quickly (not when I get up, but when I sit down). But I have very low blood pressure. And yes, I will call a medical professional about this for more advice.

                                  I was dismayed to see my trainer's older daughter (early 20s) without a helmet yesterday and more dismayed to hear her tell her mother "I ride without a helmet all the time" as though there was some logic to that being a good reason not to wear one NOW.

                                  Every single story one reads or hears is "well, I usually don't wear one, but this time [insert reason, like a woman I admire at my barn "my sister was with me"] I did, and it saved my life." Maybe because there's so much pressure for non-helmet riders to keep their choices quiet, or ... maybe it's because the ones with helmets are the only ones able to type after an accident.

                                  I had visions of Mohammed Ali, which sparked real fears that I will become unable to think or speak ... and thus unable to do my job. Lose my job, lose my horse ... so then wearing a helmet becomes not even a choice.

                                  But I'm over 50. It's the younger people who feel invincible and immortal that worry me. Like my trainer's 12 year old, who by Florida law must wear a helmet (on public land), and still tries to sneak by holding it in her hand rather than put on her head. And it doesn't help that her role-model older sister resists being smart.

                                  I guess I might as well sell my jumping saddle, tho. Just think of the really fancy helmets I can buy then!!!


                                  • #18
                                    A young gal in my town has started this, http://www.takingitheadon.com/

                                    Although not horse related she is starting a campaign to educate school and club sport coaches about head injuries.
                                    Kanoe Godby
                                    See, I was raised by wolves and am really behind the 8-ball on diplomatic issue resolution.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by AllWeatherGal View Post
                                      Thank you all for your experiences and good thoughts. It'll be a week today and I will stay off another week. I'm not sure how to determine "a week after being asymptomatic" because I get weird head rushes if I jump up and then sit down too quickly (not when I get up, but when I sit down). But I have very low blood pressure. And yes, I will call a medical professional about this for more advice.
                                      My kid was not allowed to ride for over 2 months, was finally asymptomatic after 8-9 months - if you're feeling relatively normal after a week, count yourself very lucky
                                      As others mentioned, your brain has been "knocked about", be gentle with it & don't do anything jostling, don't be surprised if you have a difficult time "thinking".

                                      (No jumping involved, "nice" horse had a complete meltdown with no warning )


                                      • #20
                                        I'm sure your trainer has seen this. If not, make her watch it. Courtney (one of the most beautiful riders around) says it all.

                                        Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"