Spruce Meadows along with the therapeutic product innovator, Back on Track Canada and leaders from the sport and emergency medicine community, have announced the formation of a national consortium committed to increasing concussion and mental health awareness across the Canadian equine industry.
Leaders from the western and English riding communities have come together to design and initiate the delivery of Canada’s first Symposium on Brain Injury and Mental Health in the Canadian Equine Industry, slated for October 11th at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta.
“It’s challenging to put a figure on just how many Canadians suffer from brain injuries,” says Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, one of the country’s leading medical experts and educators on injury prevention and the Symposium’s keynote speaker. “They don’t all present for care, especially the milder it is. The trouble with a brain injury is that you don’t appear to be injured, (but) it is a leading cause of death.
Brain injuries affect thousands of Canadians annually — most especially those within the sports community — and potentially carry $10 million per patient in economic impact for the country, says the former President of the Canadian Medical Association and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. “There’s an ambulance, there are doctor visits and follow-ups, the person’s IQ may be impacted to the point where they’re unable to work,” he affirms. “Certainly, if its a youth, their parent will have to take time off from work. It can break up families and cause divorce.
“There’s a lifetime impact to brain injuries that add up.”
Prevention is the safest and most effective way to save lives, Dr. Francescutti continues. “The thing I ask all patients when treating for injury from an accident is, ‘did you think it would happen to you today?’ Accidents and injuries always happen when you least expect it.
Symposium workshop leaders, speakers, and panelists are being drawn from a roster of recognized experts in the equine world. The one-day event is designed to equip participants with resources they can take back to their respective horse-riding communities and put into daily use. “We want to provide a toolbox of resources to all Canadian equine organizations, so they can better deal with the critical issue of rider health and wellness,” says Dr. Blaine Bugg, President of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine Team.
“Equestrian Canada (EC) is delighted to have been asked to be a part of the continuing conversation surrounding concussion awareness. Although there have been strides made, there is still a lot of work to be done to help athletes and their support teams, in all sports, be armed with the information they need. EC would like to thank the consortium’s founding members for making this Symposium possible,” says Jon Garner, Director of Sport with Equestrian Canada.
The consortium’s founding members include Equestrian Canada, Spruce Meadows, the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sports Med Team, the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Benson Concussion Institute Inc., Ty Pozzobon Foundation, Back on Track Canada and others.
“We are excited to bring together a diverse representation of the Canadian riding communities in this unprecedented initiative to improve rider safety and long-term mental health in our $13.5 billion industry,” says Tobi Simms CEO of Back on Track Canada.
All Canadian equine organizations will be invited to join the consortium to raise nationwide awareness of the prevention of brain injuries to riders, how to identify related mental health issues, and where to find appropriate resources to deal with them.