Too many concussions

Looking for advice/support/ideas/reality check…not really sure actually.

I have had many concussions. None super serious, but a considerable number starting as a child. Unfortunately, in the last 20 years, some happened quite close together, and I have long term effects with the worst being permanent vertigo. I was doing well for the last decade as I got out of retraining horses and got better at saying no when asked to fix someone else’s problem (horse).

But then 9 days ago I used horrible judgement plus a combo of unexpected bad timing, and ended up getting bucked off, right onto my noggin. It wasn’t a fall from far, and my injuries were limited to a couple bruises- no issues with my neck and back. The neurological issues seem out of proportion to the fall and are still an issue. It took me a while to figure out how to stand up for example, and trying to decide if a light is on is still complicated.

Now I am scared of another fall. I am scared of how lost I felt when I came off. I am scared that the next time will be worse. I am scared I am on a fast track to dementia.

I am also scared to get back on that one horse…which is dumb, because although she only has 30 rides, she has never shown a sign of being a bucker…this was just me being an idiot and a few unexpected events.

I am going to be seeing a specialist (not sure when) to hopefully help reverse some damage and stop the non-stop ringing in my ears. Meanwhile I am taking it as easy as I can. Fortunately I get a headache to remind me to lay down after 2 hours or so of being upright.

It is hard to let go of the paradigm of getting back on if you come off, but man, I regret the years I believed that was true.

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No, it’s not. That’s your brain protecting itself. A lot of riding is overcoming anxiety and fear, but in certain cases that fear actually preserves us.

There is NO shame in not getting back on when you suffer something like that, and you can still be the horseperson you want to be, just making decisions that have less chance (because of course it’s never zero) of being hurt and doing damage to an organ we only get one of! Not getting on doesn’t mean you can’t do it, just that you won’t so that you’ll live to ride another day.

I was having a conversation with a patient of mine, and when we were reviewing her medical history it came up that she’d recovered from shattering her pelvis/being completely paralyzed during recovery. She’d been riding a greener horse, came off a jump and the horse bolted and she held on until she was ejected right between the slats of the arena fence which broke her pelvis. She said her biggest regret was not just emergency dismounting in a safer place and trying to “ride it out” and not come off, to be this certain idea of a horsewoman. I hold on to that story because of COURSE, I understand wanting to be able to work a fix for someone, or feel like you could ride anything and get it done. But I have to remember there’s good horse sense in knowing when to say no as well.

I’m glad you’re seeing a specialist! You may have gotten some shear force even though you didn’t seem to hit your head in this fall which may be contributing to the disproportionate symptoms.

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Oh my, I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

IMO, there is no such thing as a “not super serious” concussion. Some are worse than others, sure, but all are quite serious. Your severe neurological symptoms that you said seem out of proportion with the fall are due to decades of traumatic and unhealed brain injuries piling on top of each other.

Honestly, you’d be crazy if you weren’t scared to get back on any horse at this point. You absolutely should not be riding until you see a TBI specialist and see what can be done to help your brain heal. Getting a headache after being vertical for two hours is incredibly serious. You needed to see a specialist years ago. Please go tomorrow.

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In the dim distant past a friend had a concussion and was told to stay home. No work. Thinking makes your brain work and you need to keep it quiet so it can rest and heal. I came off my horse too many times. He doesn’t like noises. The worst fall was several months ago when I was closing the back of the car in my own driveway. I was taking a step backwards, tripped on something on the ground and fell backwards. I saw stars. I’m still having a few balance problems on top of my lifelong balance problems. My horse is retired from riding - 28 y.o. with a deteriorating knee. Riding is not a temptation.

Our prior barn had a therapeutic riding program. We used to have several groups of adults with a TBI until the money dried up. There was one man who had a lot of difficulty moving around and walking. He said he fell down the stairs 3 times, years apart. Every time you get a concussion it is a little worse than the last one.

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A thought on the vertigo: consider trying 24 hour Allegra. A friend’s MD suggested it for her, it worked. My husband tried it for his vertigo, it worked. No guarantees, but worth a try. Take daily.

The concussed brain heals when the brain heals. It could take 3 days, 3 weeks, or months. Mine took me 8 months to heal. See your specialist and get a realistic time frame and recovery plan.

After my last whopper of a fall I have elected to keep my feet on terra firma. I am a happy camper. Good luck!

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Take this for what it’s worth, but as someone who has also had more than one concussion, I take both a high dose of Omega-3s every day, as well as a magnesium threonate supplement.

http://www.brainhealtheducation.org/omega-3-protocol/

I don’t know how much the magnesium helps, but I do feel like the Omegas really do make a difference. If you read Dr. Lewis’s website, it explains the theory behind it.

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I’d recommend cutting yourself some slack. It’s only been 9 days. Maybe just don’t ride for 4 or 5 weeks and do ground work a few days a week instead.

Leading a horse over some ground poles, teaching the horse to stand while you walk away, or (my new favorite) to stand while straddling a ground pole, can be very gratifying and confidence-restoring. Learn to do some simple bodywork with the horse.

Then, when you’re ready to get back on, get another person to be on foot and walk around with you for a few minutes. Do that for a week or so and see where you are, confidence-wise.

Good luck.

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To try and help yourself when you fall, I would recommend looking up LandSafe, which is an equestrian ‘falling’ clinic so you can protect yourself next time you come off.
Also a MIPS helmet will protect you more than a regular helmet, so I would look into those.

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I have been riding. I know I shouldn’t, but a few days after the fall I had arranged to try a horse for a client, and I have been on my gelding and my other mare in training. Just short rides well spaced out. It’s just the one horse I haven’t been on yet. I haven’t had the energy to tell clients I was hurt.

I do need to try to find a MIPS helmet.

i just started jumping again after stopping for a few years (other than the occasional jump to help a client or for fun), and now I am second guessing if that is a good idea.

Hopefully time heals this wound and adds some clarity.

I will look into the supplements

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My advice, for what it’s worth, as somebody with a bunch of damage from TBIs, mostly healed but an ongoing concern: try not to elevate the risk of another hit to your head while you still have symptoms from the last one. The brain’s initial phases of healing are really fragile and easily messed with.

I was going to write “don’t risk another hit”, but that’s unrealistic. There’s a continuum between riding young dumb horses, riding any horses, leaving the house at all, and lying down full-time in a padded room, but whatever risk you take be aware that a second hit to your head while you’re still healing can really, really mess you up.

I have an orthopaedist (never thought I would be able to say that, I think I’m getting old) who once said “you should take six weeks off, but if you want to show next weekend I can fit you with an external brace and it’s going to hurt like a mofo but you can ride”, and I am happy to be able to make that call for myself, but the “grit your teeth and kick on” approach doesn’t work for brains.

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Some good ones are Tipperary(I have one), OneK, TraumaVoid, and Charles Owen, I believe.

Concussions have cumulative effects that can be permanent. I would rethink my riding goals. I hate to say that but this stuff doesn’t magically go away. You are piling one injury on top of another. I don’t know how old you are but disability and early dementia are not worth it.

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We’ve all heard of CTE in football. CTE doesn’t discriminate by sport; successive concussions put you at high-risk OP. Maybe it’s time to reconsider continuing to put yourself at risk,OP.

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Yes that is one of my fears and why I am going to hopefully be seeing a specialist soon.

I am 49

I went 10 years without a fall. My last concussion was actually a kick to the head when I was feeding hay in the dark. A neighbour dog barked, horse spooked and kicked me while I was bent over mid hay toss. Triggered a lot of issues I have been working on since, and I both stopped taking training horses and stopped jumping. I was seeing enough improvements that I felt I could get back into it…and then one stupid decision sets me back.

I didn’t end up buying a MIPS helmet, but am going to keep looking. I have a giant oval head, and the ones I found to try on were too round. I am hoping I can try different brands at horse shows when travelling vendors show up. Got another Ovation for now.

Felt good on Thursday and apparently overdid it, so felt awful Friday. It would be easier if I had some other physical injury that I could assess better. Heads are tricky.

Thanks everyone.

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You don’t need an impact to the head to cause damage to the brain. A jolt to the head can have the same result. I speak from experience.

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I feel your pain! I have a large oval head also and did not care for any of the mips helmet fits.

@CHT and @CindyCRNA, did you try a OneK CCS in Long Oval? I have an oval head and found it to be the best shape for me of all the MIPS I tried. I also had to size down from my usual, so I’m thinking they run large. Riding Warehouse and others sell them with free return shipping.

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I recommend these also! They’re very comfortable/

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I also recommend the OneK in the oval shape.

It looks like Stateline Tack has them:

Stateline Tack OneK MIPS helmet

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