USA Cycling Develops Head Injury Protocol
This comes out of VeloNews, but mentions BMX in the very first sentence, so we felt it was fitting to let you in on it. As tracks become more extreme, and hyper-optimized training by BMX athletes increases the speeds they travel on those tracks, concussions are always a possibility, when there is a bad crash. Most recently, at last month’s Chula Vista SX, where we witnessed Jelle van Gorkom suffer such a bad impact that his Motocross-grade helmet and Leatt Brace both cracked, and Jelle was in the hospital for two weeks, with sundry injuries—including…wait for it…a severe concussion.
Fortunately, The World Cup series has a medical team, complete with licensed physician, right there to take charge of any issues. And they do take charge. We remember at the 2011 Chula Vista SX, when Donny Robinson crashed on the first straight. He had low enough points to transfer to the next round, but the medical team “black-flagged” him and he was not permitted to race, over his objections.
In the article, USA Cycling President of Athletics, Jim MIller, said, of BMX injuries:
Dirt-track racing “is a high-risk, high-impact sport when they crash,” Miller explained. And because BMX courses are tight and competition for first position into the banked turns is furious, the riders crash a lot. Not being doctors, the BMX coaches and USA Cycling officials did not feel comfortable making judgment calls “when these kids crash and get up and say they are fine and they want to race the next round.”
The VeloNews article is a great read for anyone who races BMX, or has kids racing BMX, as it goes deep into the mechanics of head injuries, and talks about how USA Cycling has taken the lead on developing the protocol, complete with a software tool that tests brain function and cognitive function.
We have heard riders say “I’m fine…I really want to get out there next round” after a bad wreck, only to learn they have no recollection of saying it, nor of the crash, nor of anything after leaving the pit area. This is obviously a case of some form of brain trauma. It’s not a question of being “tough,” is the point. When you need to make the decision to race or not race, you may not have the physical ability to make such a decision–and not even know it til much later. USA Cycling, via their efforts on this important issue, has stepped in to ensure science can give you a hand when your brain’s in pain.
We have included a link to a “decision tree” chart, developed by “Medicine Of Cycling,” to help in diagnosing brain injuries. We recommend you print it out and put it in your gear bag, in case you need to administer it to a friend or teammate. Also great for local tracks.