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U.S. Cycling Joins List of Sports with Increased Focus on Brain Injuries & Athlete Safety

Velo News reported this week on new steps by USA Cycling to develop more effective safety protocols to keep athletes safe in the event of a traumatic brain injury. The move was likely prompted by the flood of attention that has been recently been given to the prevalence and serious consequences of these injuries. In particular, new information about these health concerns have led to increased scrutiny of BMX crashes in the sport.

In order to tackle the concerns USA Cycling has sought out the assistance of leading doctors in the area of head injuries to come up with new protocols to help those who suffered one of these injuries recover. Considering that bicycle accidents occur on our area roadways all the time, our Chicago brain injury lawyers understand that these basic safety efforts are an important reminder to all local bike riders, not just professional athletes.

As blog readers know there are both immediate and long-term consequences of these injuries. For example, one professional cyclist at the Tour de France last year crashed and suffered severe head trauma. In the heat of the competition, the rider got back on his bike and continued on to finish that portion of the race. Afterward he expressed confusion, because he did not even remember crashing. During a hospital trip afterwards the doctor explained that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury and could not continue to the next stage of the race. The cyclist was confused, because he didn’t quite remember much and didn’t understand what happened.

Cycling is a unique sport in that there are no time-outs or substitutions. That means that when an accident occurs and a cyclist suffers an injury, there is a tendency for the cyclist to jump back on the bike and keep riding. This presents obvious dangers, because the rider may have lost cognitive function and balancing ability. In addition, a subsequent fall and second head injury can exacerbate the long-term problems even more.

That is why the cycling organization is trying to improve its concussion management systems. The new protocol being developed will hopefully make it easier for those involved to identify signs of head injury like memory loss, headache, balance problems, and nausea.

Right now the organization already uses the well-known concussion test which involves basic tasks taken after a possible injury. The score on that test is then compared to the score taken as a baseline when the athlete was healthy. While not necessarily fool-proof, this offers at least some systematic way to try to catch these injuries.

Each Illinois brain injury attorney at our firm appreciates that bike accidents are often the cause of head injuries on the road. It should go without saying that helmets are always essential, and their use is often the difference between life and death. But helmets can only do so much. It is also very important to ensure that medical professionals are consulted following each of these accidents to ensure that a serious brain injury was not suffered. Sometimes the victim may not even realize the full extent of the harm.

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