Concussions Can Be Deadly

From Dr. Tabitha Price, HealthONE’s Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital

Performance has no bounds. Persevere through the pain. Reaching the goal is the only option.


Do you remember when professional cyclist Chris Horner of Team RadioShack crashed and was knocked unconscious in Stage 7 of the 2011 Tour De France? According to New York Sports, Horner insisted on finishing the next 35 km, none of which he remembers: the crash, whether or not he finished, or even that he was riding in the Tour de France. There are numerous stories such as Horner’s and ones that are more significant like hockey sensation, HYPERLINK "" Sidney Crosby from the Pittsburgh Penguins who has been sidelined indefinitely because of lingering concussion symptoms or Colorado high school football player, Jake Snakenberg, who died from sustaining a second concussion.

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These three young men have two definite commonalities: they were wearing helmets and were physically capable to continue with their sport. Just because you can get up and put a helmet on does not mean everything is ok.

A concussion is “a traumatically-induced alteration in mental status that may or may not involve a loss of consciousness,” according to the American Academy of Neurology.

Cycling is not one of the most talked about sports when it comes to head injuries, but it should be. There were an estimated 446,788 sports-related head injuries treated at U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2009, but from 2008-2009, cycling had the highest increase and most reported incidences of head injury when compared to 20 other sports, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. This includes both road and mountain biking.

Physically capable or not, a concussion is a serious matter. This type of head injury is considered “mild” in most cases, but despite the “mildness”, this injury can often cause significant and sustained neuropsychological impairments in

  • information-processing speed
  • problem solving
  • planning
  • memory

These impairments worsen with multiple concussions. The challenge with concussions is they may not be noticed in routine neurological examinations or the athlete may not exhibit symptoms until minutes, hours, even days later. As seen with Jake, his initial symptoms were so slight they went unnoticed with the outcome of return to play too soon resulting in death from a second sustained concussion within a week.

An athlete who sustains a concussion is at a higher risk for a repeat concussion. If left unmanaged, a concussion could lead to a life-threatening condition or permanent brain injury.

The State of Colorado is working very diligently to provide education on concussions. The Colorado Department of Education has developed Concussion Management Guidelines for youth ages five to 18, which was signed into Senate Bill 11-040. This bill is also known as “The Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Act.” The Medicine of Cycling Concussion Task Force is also making strides in setting guidelines for cyclists.

For further information on concussion symptoms, treatment, and management guidelines, please refer to:

Medicine of Cycling
Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital

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i was attempting a triple d/h jump when i burried my front wheel after the second jump i landed on my right shoulder and planted my right side of my head on hard pack dirt.3-4 days later i developed a mild concussion.i was back on te bike in june a month later.since then i have one bad crash and three lite ones,post concussion syndrome has plauged after every one of these incidences,mostly mild to moderate point here is ,is that once you sustain a concussion you will always be susceptable to one.BE SMART!