The High Risk of Concussions in the Dangerous Sport of Rodeo

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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The High Risk of Concussions in the Dangerous Sport of Rodeo

Exploring the perilous nature of rodeo sports, this essay emphasizes the high incidence of concussions among participants. It will discuss the physical demands and risks inherent in rodeo, the medical implications of concussions, and the measures taken to mitigate these risks. The piece aims to raise awareness about the need for enhanced safety protocols and medical readiness in this high-adrenaline sport. You can also find more related free essay samples at PapersOwl about Concussion.

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Rodeo is a dangerous sport that can cause many serious injuries due to the physical toll it takes on one’s body. Head injuries are very common in rodeo, not only because you can be stepped on or kicked, but you can also be pulled down onto a bull’s head or land incorrectly on the ground. Furthermore, you may be thrown into the fence or chutes, and during the ride, your head is constantly being whipped around, causing severe head and neck injuries.

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The term Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is defined as any injury to the brain. That was caused by an external physical force that results in partial or total functional disability. Or psychosocial impairment, or both. TBI applies to open and closed head injuries causing impairments in one or more areas. Areas such as cognition, language, memory, attention, reasoning, abstract thinking, judgment, problem solving, sensory, perceptual, motor skills, psychosocial behavior, physical functions, information processing, and speech. (, 2003) TBI also includes other head injuries such as concussions. Concussions are caused by the brain literally bouncing around inside the skull, which causes a short-term disruption of electrical activity in the brain. Tissues surround the brain, which acts as a cushion between the brain and the skull, head injuries can include these tissues and can also grow into a much more serious injury such as bleeding inside the skull and seizures.

The signs and symptoms of a head injury include loss of consciousness. Confusion and inability to focus attention, headaches, nausea or vomiting, unequal pupils and vacant stares, memory loss, delayed responses and slurred speech, odd bodily sensations, disorientation and observable lack of coordination, and overly emotional to situation. (, 2003) When it is questionable whether a cowboy does suffer from a head injury or not a supervisor must test the injured person. When testing for a head injury you must test mental status; orientation testing includes time, place, name, and situation question. Having the subject name things in reverse order can test concentration and you can test memory by having them tell you the details of the ride or recall 3 words and 3 objects instantly and after 5 minutes. A neurological test should also be done consisting or a strength test as well as tests for coordination, ability, and sensation. Also an exertion test should be done including 40-yard sprints, 5 push-ups, 5 sit-ups, and 5 knee bends and if any appearance of associated symptoms is abnormal and a physician should be consulted for diagnosis. (Dr. Dale Butterwick)

There are 3 different Grades to a concussion and each has slightly different treatments. Symptoms of a Grade 1 concussion include temporary confusion, there is no loss of consciousness, dizziness, headaches, nausea, lethargy, possibility for some memory loss, and any abnormalities from the examination will clear in less than 15 minutes. The athlete should not return to play without the approval of a physician. For a first Grade 1 concussion they should be removed from the contest, examined immediately and after 5 minutes, and always check the neck for injury. A Grade 2 concussion symptoms are similar to a Grade 1concussion except they show symptoms for longer than 15 minutes and should be treated the same but the injured person should rest for at least a week before returning to competition. A Grade 3 concussion occurs with any loss of consciousness and the injured person should be transported to emergency room for a very in-depth neurological evaluation, and a physician should clear the competitor to return to the arena after at least a week of being symptom free. For the second concussion of a 1st or 2nd Grade there should be a minimum of a 1-month layoff and should only return after 1 week without symptoms and being cleared by a physician. For a second Grade 3 or a third concussion of any kind the season should be terminated. (, 2003)

In the Bareback riding event, a concussion can be caused by a variety of reasons due to the nature of the event. Your hand is wedged into a rawhide handle that is shaped somewhat like the handle on a suitcase. Then, the horse will jump away from you, trying to jerk your hand out of the rigging while you are attempting to spur the horse in the neck. Being kicked in the head can cause concussions; you could land on your head, on the ground, or you could be thrown into the chutes. However, the three most common causes of concussions from Bareback riding are having your head bounce off the horse’s rump, having your head snapped back due to the pull on the rest of your body–also causing whiplash-or landing on the back of your head after being bucked off.

Bull riding also has its share of concussions, typically resulting from being kicked or stepped on. The majority of them come from the bull rider being pulled down onto the bull’s head, landing on the back of their head, or from whipping your head side to side to keep your head looking at the middle of the bull’s back. On occasion, a concussion may be caused due to a bull mauling the rider.

Saddle Bronc riding has the fewest concussions of all the rough stock events, but it is still a dangerous event. Most concussions in the Bronc riding occur when the Bronc rider lands on their head but they may also be kicked in the head or stepped on. Concussions are most common in the rough stock events, but if you fall off a horse in a timed event, there is always a chance of getting a concussion or other injuries.

Cowboys have been very innovative in prevention measures to avoid concussions. Most Bareback riders have begun wearing a neck brace of sorts to prevent their head from whipping back and thus preventing many concussions. Some Bull riders have begun wearing helmets to prevent concussions if they are jerked down on a bull’s head or if they are stepped on. Another prevention measure being taken by rough stock riders is the use of mouth guards. A mouth guard helps prevent their jaws from jamming and transmitting the shock to the base of the brain. They can also absorb much of the impact delivered to the jaw that can occur not only in rodeo but any contact sport. A mouth guard also helps prevent dental injury (Dr. Dale Butterwick).

There are many complex problems that can occur from repeated concussions. There are physical impairments such as speech, vision, hearing, lack of motor coordination, seizures, and paralysis. Cognitive impairments can occur such as short and long term memory loss, impaired concentration and perception, slowness of thinking, and writing skills. A third area in which impairments can occur is Psychosocial- behavioral-emotional, impairments in this area include fatigue, mood swings, denial, self-centeredness, anxiety, depression, lowered self-esteem, sexual dysfunction, restlessness, lack of motivation, difficulty with emotional control, inability to cope and excessive laughing or crying. A concussion can also cause death. (, 2003) So as shown a concussion is an extremely dangerous injury that is vary common in rodeo. A concussion can cause serious side affects and can end careers. The people who do not take enough time to rest after a concussion, which is the only real cure, could end up seriously injured or even dead. So please give a concussion the appropriate rest so you can return to competition at 100% and not rick further problems.

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The High Risk of Concussions in the Dangerous Sport of Rodeo. (2022, Nov 19). Retrieved from