Equestrian Canada has developed official, sport-specific guidelines on equestrian athlete concussion protocols. The “Accidents and Return-to-Play” rule will enable EC to track concussion incidents, reduce the risk of Second Impact Syndrome and assist affected athletes in safely returning to the sport. The rule will go into effect January 1, 2017 and will apply to all EC sanctioned competition in Canada.
“When concussion occurs, it is of the utmost importance that they be recognized and that we limit athletes’ exposure to another potential concussion soon after the first,” said Dr. Rob Stevenson, the FEI National Safety Officer for Canada. “Though we acknowledge that equestrian sports have an inherent risk in participation, we recognize that there is no need to increase risk unnecessarily.
“Wearing an approved helmet reduces the risk of serious head injuries, but does not reduce the risk of concussion. Through these concussion protocols, Equestrian Canada has established a thorough framework for the education, recognition and management of concussions.”
The major components of the Accidents and Return-to-Play rule are as follows:
- In the event of a fall/accident where a concussion can be reasonably suspected, the competitors must receive medical clearance by qualified medical personnel onsite before continuing to compete.
- The competitor is solely responsible for ensuring the onsite medical assessment takes place. Should a competitor refuse to be evaluated, they will be disqualified from the competition.
- If onsite qualified medical personnel suspect a concussion or believe the competitor may be at risk of concussion due to the nature of the fall or impact, the competitor will be suspended from competition and placed on a Medical Suspension List until medically released.
- Competitors will remain on the EC Medical Suspension List until they submit an EC Return to Play Form, signed by a licensed physician, to EC.
- No competitor shall compete at EC sanctioned competitions while on the EC Medical Suspension List and competition organizers may refuse entry to anyone currently on the list.
The new rule will be included in the 2017 Rules of Equestrian Canada, Section A, General Regulations, Article 101, to be published in January.
If you’re interested in reading the USEF’s similar return to competition guidelines, you can find them in the USEF Rulebook under GR1316, Accidents Involving Competitors.