Head Injuries and Horses

An Experience I Forgot, but Will Never Forget 

On September 24th, 2018 I was in an unfortunate accident with a horse and ended up with a serious concussion. I was grooming in the barn and the horse spooked, flipped over backwards and fell on top of me. We are not totally sure what happened, but I either got kicked in the head and/or slammed my head into a wooden pallet while the horse was on top of me. Miraculously, I did not break any bones or have a brain bleed, but I still ended up with short term memory loss, vestibular issues and trouble processing and thinking for more than 12 weeks post concussion. I ultimately do not remember most of October, November and the beginning of December, yet I somehow continued to function and get my daily tasks done. 

This month marks 1 year post concussion. My doctor told me that 1 year out, I would be the new me and as frustrating as it is to say, I am not the old me. Yes, I am extremely grateful and lucky to be where I am today, but I unfortunately  still have symptoms and my memory is not 100% back to what it used to be. Finding words to accurately describe the experience is difficult, but this article by philosopher Megan Craig does just that. I am grateful for the recovery I have had and for the ability I developed in truly understanding how TBIs, learning disabilities and vestibular issues impact people in their everyday lives. I will never again take for granted the ability to drive with the radio on, work in a room with patterned floor or the ability to ignore a ceiling fan. 

2016 Leanne Nieforth--62 (1)

International Helmet Awareness Day 

 This past weekend was Riders4helmets’ international helmet awareness day. Riders4helmets is an organization founded after US Olympian Courtney King Dye suffered a traumatic brain injury after her horse tripped and fell in 2010. She was not wearing a helmet and as a result spent 4 weeks in a coma and 3 weeks in rehab to learn how to walk and talk again. Luckily, today Courtney is a trainer, a para-dressage rider and a huge advocate for helmets. This organization has been a catalyst in raising awareness for helmets in equestrian sports, teaming up with major retailers across the world to discount helmets on international helmet awareness day. 

Do You Wear a Helmet?

As equestrians, concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are not uncommon. In fact, equestrians are the leaders in this area, contributing 45% of all sports related TBIs, yet many still do not wear helmets. Why? If we know that TBIs are so common and we know the severity of the injuries, why do we choose to not wear them? Do you wear a helmet? This week, I challenge you to think about your helmet habits. I always wear a helmet when I ride, but I don’t always wear a helmet when I am working with horses on the ground. The funny thing (or not at all funny thing) is that I got my TBI grooming my horse. If I had had a helmet on, I probably would not have had a serious concussion, most likely just a bump on the head and some whiplash. Recently, I have been trying to wear a helmet all the time at the barn because you just never know. I encourage you to do the same. Remember you only have one brain.

 

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