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FOR RELEASE: January 14 , 2008
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

International Rodeo Medicine Conference Scheduled in OKC

A colorful and popular sport in Oklahoma, bull riding, along with other rodeo events, can also be among the most dangerous, with frequent head and neck injuries reported among rodeo athletes. This week in Oklahoma City, the Second International Rodeo Medicine Conference will bring together North American rodeo and bull riding research and clinical medicine experts to discuss current research and strategies to prevent injuries in these sports.

The conference will be held at the Biltmore Hotel, 401 S. Meridian Ave., on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 17-18. The conference is being held in conjunction with the International Finals Rodeo, also in Oklahoma City this week, and organizers say it will be the largest conference ever held on rodeo medicine. Participants from throughout the United States, Canada, and Ireland are scheduled to attend, and speakers will include sports medicine physicians and athletic trainers from professional rodeo, as well as the National Football League, National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, and other professional sporting leagues.

Oklahoma is a leader in research efforts on injuries resulting from bull riding and other rodeo events. Dr. Mark Brandenburg, conference organizer and vice chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, said, “ Our aim is to improve the safety and health of rodeo athletes while still maintaining those rodeo traditions that make this such a unique sport.”

Brandenburg has conducted more than 10 years of research in rodeo medicine and has found that the rate of injury in bull riding is higher than any other contact sport. His research has helped pave the way for acceptance of bull riders to wear helmets. About 40 percent of professional bull riders now wear helmets, compared to only five percent who used this equipment 10 years ago. Helmets are now mandatory in Canada for all bull riders less than 18 years of age.

In rodeo injury surveillance conducted by the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Injury Prevention Service for the years 1992 through 2003, 75 traumatic brain injury cases and six spinal cord injury cases occurred related to rodeo events in Oklahoma. Seventy percent of the injuries were reported among males 15 to 24 years of age, with most injuries resulting from bull riding.

In other conference topics, participants will review recently released materials from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on preventing concussions in high school sports programs. The conference will also examine management of common orthopedic injuries resulting from contact sports.

The Second International Rodeo Medicine Conference is sponsored by the Oklahoma Institute for Disaster and Emergency Medicine, the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in Tulsa, and the Oklahoma State Department of Health.


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