The association of Professional Bull Riders made helmets mandatory in 2013, but only for riders born after 1994. Helmets can decrease a head injury’s severity, but can’t necessarily prevent a concussion from occurring. This rider, pictured at Friday night’s Cloverdale Rodeo wears a cowboy hat. (Samantha Anderson)

‘Concussion is at the forefront of our thinking’: Rodeo doctor

As in any other contact sport, concussion prevention and treatment efforts continue to evolve

Athletes and sports medicine professionals continue to learn more about how traumatic brain injury, including concussions, affect professional athletes.

In the world of rodeo sport, the need to continue researching and raising awareness about concussions came to the forefront following Ty Pozzobon’s death by suicide in January 2017.

The 25-year-old professional bull rider from Merritt, B.C., was remembered as one of the most accomplished rodeo competitors in the country, and as a loving, devoted friend to many.

Following his death, a family spokesperson said Pozzobon had been suffering from depression, anxiety and the effects of a number of concussions he had sustained in recent years. Pozzobon’s family donated his brain to researchers in the pursuit of gaining a better understanding of the connection between traumatic brain injuries, concussions and depression.

In October last year, researchers from the University of Washington announced that they had found evidence of chronic encephalopathy (CTE) in Ty Pozzobon’s brain.

It was the first confirmed case of a professional bull rider with CTE, a form of brain degeneration known to affect boxers, football players, and other athletes who sustain numerous concussions.

According to the Mayo Clinic, possible symptoms of CTE include difficulty thinking, depression, emotional instability and impulsive behaviour, and suicidal thoughts or behaviour. CTE is not a well-understood condition; researchers do not know the rate at which it affects the general population, they do not understand what causes CTE, there is little information on how CTE progresses, and there is no cure for CTE.

At the Cloverdale Rodeo, a team of athletic therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists and sport medicine physicians is on hand before, during and after each rodeo event to provide care to the athletes, including concussion care.

Dr. Ralph Strother, head physician for the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sport Medicine Team, said that providing care for rodeo athletes is the “same as covering any other contact sport.”

“Similar to football, and similar to hockey,” he said. “Our approach to the athletes would be on par with that.”

As in other professional sport coverage, the medical team provides pre-event preparation, monitors athletes during the competition, and follows up with athletes after they exit the arena.

“The injuries vary from bruises and strains and sprains and pulled ligaments to on further to fractures and dislocations,” said Strother. “And, of course, concussion is at the forefront of all of our thinking.” 

“We’ve always followed the protocols as they relate to concussion as its evolved,” he said.

The Canadian Pro Rodeo Sport Medicine Team follows concussion protocols established by an international board of sports medicine experts. The protocols are re-evaluated every few years at conferences in Zurich, Switzerland. As those protocols evolve with the latest research, so does the medicine team’s approach.

“Every couple years, a group of expert sports medicine physicians, several of which are Canadian, get together to review the state of understanding and the state of science as it relates to traumatic brain injury, and to develop a set of guidelines as to identification, management and return to activity,” explained Strother. “One of the tools that has arisen from those meetings is called the SCAT — the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool, and we’re on our fifth edition of that.”

“With rodeo, we’ve always applied the same guidelines that have been applied at other sports, as far as the treatment team goes,” said Strother.

“Concussion awareness has grown immensely throughout all of sport. And really its something that is being continuously evaluated and researched and, of course, with the Zurich conventions, discussed with experts,” said Strother.

“We’re trying to figure out [an] understanding of what causes a concussion, how we can best identify a concussed athlete and also better pathways to treatment to ensure that their brains have recovered,” he said.

“To the credit of the rodeo athlete, is that they are much more willing to present themselves,” said Strother. “There’s a more global awareness of the impact of concussion as we see in professional sport, including hockey and football.”

Today, the Ty Pozzobon Foundation works within Canada and the United States to support the health and well-being of rodeo competitors.

They work to advance education on the importance of concussion prevention, promote mental health awareness and provide access to counselling and support programs, and work to establish concussion protocols, including the diagnosis and management of concussions, in rodeo sport.



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Tardi earns first victory in quest for third national title

A Langley-based junior curling team is in Prince Albert, Sask. for the Canadian championships.

VIDEO: Surrey-based business wants customers to ‘Eat the Dishes’

New business plans to be one of the ongoing vendors at KPU’s new winter market

Surrey hunter fined $10,000 after shooting a bull moose and leaving it to die

The man was convicted for three Wildlife Act offences after shooting a bull moose not in season

Tonight’s Surrey RCMP Classic final: Cloverdale and South Surrey school teams to battle

Elsewhere, Holy Cross boys team aims to win another BC Catholics championship on home court

Surrey RCMP asks for public’s help in finding missing 14-year-old

Police say Ali Al-Shai was last seen on Jan. 16

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

VIDEO: Giants wrap southern swing with 6-4 win in Spokane

The Lower Mainland-based hockey team defeated the Chiefs Friday night.

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

Most Read