Traumatic Brain Injuries in Equestrian Sport

Equestrians are athletes, and athletes suffer injuries. And one neurology professor says that, among sports-related traumatic brain injuries, the highest incidence among adults occurred in equestrians.
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Traumatic Brain Injuries in Equestrian Sport
Equestrians are athletes, and athletes suffer injuries. And Dr. Dan Han says, among sports-related traumatic brain injuries, the highest incidence among adults occurred in equestrians. | Photo: University of Kentucky
Dan Han, PsyD, chief of the University of Kentucky (UK) Neuropsychology Service’s Clinical Section and associate professor of neurology, neurosurgery, and physical medicine and rehabilitation at the UK College of Medicine, spoke about traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and rehabilitation following TBI at the inaugural Horse Industry Safety Summit, held April 23 at UK’s Spindletop Hall, in Lexington.

Starting off, he reiterated a common thread among the day’s speakers: Equestrians are athletes, and athletes suffer injuries. He stated that, among sports-related TBIs, the highest incidence among adults occurred in equestrians.

“Riding requires a lot of athleticism,” Han said. “Riding a horse is tougher than mixed martial arts and kickboxing. It requires a high level of athleticism and neural engagement to ride. It’s also very complicated—riding marries a horse and person into synchrony. Other sports pale in comparison to high-level equestrian sports.”

Han is used to receiving questions about head injury across the range of sports. One question he gets asked is why there is such variability in recovery

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