Equestrian Accidents

There is a large nationwide database that looks at injuries and deaths from equestrian injuries. The database analyzes the predictors of significant injuries associated with different types of accidents.

In this study, the Surveillance System database was asked to spit out the various equestrian injuries between 2002 and 2004. The study showed all the dislocations, fractures, traumatic brain injuries, orthopedic injuries, musculoskeletal injuries, and spinal injuries and also looked at the mechanism of injury, the location in the country, and the disposition in the emergency room was studied.

The results of the study showed that there were 5033 visits to the emergency room during this time. The average age was 30 years of age and 66 percent of victims were women. Injuries occurred at the home 36 percent of the time, at a sporting or recreational area 30 percent of the time, 19 percent occurred on a farm, and 12 percent occurred on public property.

People fell from the horse 59 percent of the time, 22 percent were bucked off the horse, and 9 percent were injured on the horse itself. The most common injuries included abrasions and contusions. Fractures made up 28 percent and strains/sprains made up 18 percent. Lacerations occurred in 12 percent. The head and neck were injured in 24 percent, the trunk in 29 percent, and the upper extremity in 30 percent. Lower extremities amounted to 16 percent, with multiple locations occurring in 1 percent.

Summer was the most common season of injuries. Those who were more likely to become hospitalized were patients who were greater than 18 years, those with traumatic brain injury, those with a fracture or those whose injuries occurred on public property.

White females in the 2nd-5th decade of life had the largest amount of equestrian injuries. The most serious injuries occurred from being bucked off the horse and most people were injured at home or at a recreational sporting facility. Prevention involves helmets and a better degree of horse riding education.

Because bucking injuries are the most common, people need to be educated about staying on the horse and avoiding aggravating the horse or spooking it. This can result in fewer people getting bucked off the horse and fewer people getting serious injuries. Women especially need education in this area. Patients who get bucked off the horse are more likely to sustain a traumatic brain injury which stems from being thrown over the horse. Such TBIs can lead to permanent brain damage from bruising or prolonged bleeding within the brain tissue.

The other issue is that many people get injured in their own homes with horses, meaning that there is not likely supervision with horseback riding as there would be in training centers. The rate of injuries at training centers is not much behind home injuries and this is likely due to inexperienced riders who are more prone to injuries in the first place. Special training needs to be given to inexperienced riders at training centers to prevent falls off the horse or getting bucked off the horse.

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