Equestrian Canada (EC) has become one of the first national governing bodies for sport in Canada to release official, sport-specific guidelines on return-to-play protocols for athlete concussions.
“Parachute congratulates Equestrian Canada in creating a Return-to-Play protocol that will help educate and monitor concussion in their sport,” said Pamela Fuselli, Interim CEO of Parachute, a national charitable organization in Canada dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives.
EC’s concussion-related Accidents & Return-to-Play rule will come into effect Jan. 1, 2017 for all EC sanctioned competitions 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, a Canadian Olympian in eventing who was appointed FEI National Safety Officer for Canada in 2012 and was part of the concussion working group led by EC Head of Sport Science, Jessica Dilliott. Additional members of the working group included EC Manager of Technical Development, Rachel Huebert, Jan Stephens, Jane Tidball, Chris Pack, Doug Orr, Anne Welch and Fran McAvity.
“Though we acknowledge that equestrian sports have an inherent risk in participation, we recognize that there is no need to increase risk unnecessarily,” continued Dr. Stevenson. “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.”
Key components of the new Accidents & Return to Play rule will include the following:
- 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.
“We will now be able to track the incidence of concussions at EC sanctioned competitions in Canada,” explained Dr. Stevenson. “In addition, the implementation of a concussion-related educational program will allow us to seek to reduce the risk of the potentially devastating Second Impact Syndrome, as well as assist concussed athletes return safely to the sport through return-to-play guidelines.”
The full Accidents & Return to Play rule will be available in the 2017 Rules of Equestrian Canada, Section A, General Regulations, Article 101, to be published in January 2017.
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