Is Cycling as Dangerous as Football?

The Huffington Post—September 14, 2012

by Dr. Josh Dines and Dr. Rock Positano, Sports Medicine Specialists at Hospital for Special Surgery

If you had to guess, what percentage of adults had a concussion? Last year, Dr. Anna Abramson, co-founder of Medicine of Cycling Conference and co-author of the "Concussions in Cycling Consensus Statement," asked an audience of almost 100 high-level cyclists if they had ever had a concussion and 95 hands went up. The more shocking fact was uncovered in the next question to the audience. Only two riders knew they had a concussion at the time of crash, the rest were completely unaware of their brain injury.

Concussion in sport is now getting well-deserved attention. In sports such as football and school team sports, we are finally gaining a collective consciousness of the long-term consequences of concussion such as chronic headaches, memory loss, movement disorders and severe mood disturbances.

Cycling is not football. There are no aggressive tackles and skirmishes to cause falls and impacts. But cyclists travel at high speeds, and when they fall there are no coaches and medics at the sideline, there is no time-out and rarely a recording of the event. Many cyclists ride every day for decades, but a split second of inattention on the bike, a pothole or lane marker can send the rider over the handlebars. The entire body undergoes an instantaneous deceleration, and the brain sloshes inside the unyielding skull, potentially resulting in a form of brain injury known as concussion.

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Riding a bike has a very important place in our culture. Kids love it; it's a great way to commute; it's a lifelong sport with an emphatic community focused on health, friendships, and family; and it's really fun. Accidents happen in cycling, as with any other sport. The vast majority of cyclists are adults and sadly our parents, bosses, and legislators do not stand together to ensure that we are evaluated for concussion as we might be as children. For now, concussion in cycling advocates including Dr. Abramson urge all cyclists to wear a helmet and be aware of concussion symptoms in themselves and others after a high speed injury.

Read the full story at huffingtonpost.com.

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