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Helmet Limits My Head Injury to a Grade 3 Concussion by Janet Peters

My 13-year-old daughter and I headed out on the trail one beautiful, sunny, fall afternoon. I was riding my seven- year-old Canadian warmblood and my daughter was on her 22-year-old Arabian. We had been out riding together several times before with no incident.

My horse had been on a walk only exercise program on flat ground for several weeks due to a lameness issue. When I asked him to turn downhill to pass through a small gate he spun around and trotted back up the hill. I asked my daughter to go on ahead and we would follow behind. She passed through the gate and I asked my horse to follow. This time, when he neared the gate, he turned around and cantered up the hill. When he got to the top he turned backed to the barn, at a fast canter. I had my seat and wasn't too concerned. My daughter could hear me laughing and telling my horse he was being silly. My last memory is of the horse dropping his head, pulling me onto the pommel of my English saddle. My next complete memory does not occur until the following morning.

When my daughter didn't see us coming she turned around to check on us. When she reached the top of the hill she saw me lying on the ground, unconscious, with the horse nuzzling me and blowing in my face. She rode up and dismounted. Apparently, my breathing was very ragged, due to bruised ribs, which spooked her horse. My horse reacted to the spooking and headed back to the barn at a gallop. The barn owner immediately went down the trail to investigate. I was about a quarter of a mile from the barn. When she reached us, she hopped on my daughter's horse, headed back and called for an ambulance. After being strapped to a board and transported, I was treated at the local hospital. They performed a CAT scan to check for brain bruising or bleeding, and X-rayed my back and ribs. I was diagnosed with a displaced hip, bruised ribs, and a Grade 3 concussion. I have a dent 3 inches wide on the back of my helmet. The paramedics searched around and couldn't find any rocks. Since the surface was sandy they believe there is a strong possibility that my horse stumbled and clipped me in the head. I don't even want to think what could have happened if I hadn't had my trusty helmet!

Now, 4 weeks later, I still have pain in my ribs and neck. I am still being treated and will make a complete recovery. The pain is nothing compared to having the head injury. The first week I was only awake in ten minute increments. Every day I feel better but I do still suffer residual symptoms from the concussion.

The good news is that I have a new helmet and have been riding a few times since the accident.

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