After 15 concussions and friend's suicide bull rider retires from the sport

December 14, 2018, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

How many concussions is too many?

Bull riding. Most people think of the mechanical bull rides that you find at fairs or in some bars. When we think about sports Bull riding isn’t one that springs to mind for most people. It is however a highly competitive and skilled sport carries a lot of inherent risk. One rider, Matt O’Flynn has decided to reconsider his participation in the sport.

Mr. O’Flynn’s decision is based on two things – the death of a close friend, and his own 15th (fifteenth) concussion in the sport. At the age of 28 he’s decided to quit, and now he wonders what role repeated concussions payed in the suicide of his good friend and fellow rider Ty Pozzobon.  Earlier this month Mr. O’Flynn rode his last bull while thinking of of his friend who was no longer alive.

Mr. Pozzobon killed himself at the age of 25 and his mother is convinced that his depression was concussion linked.  Experts say that repeated concussions can lead to permanent brain changes. Mr. Pozzobon had everything to live for according to those who knew him. He had suffered repeated concussions although no one knows how many in his career as a bull rider. There are many videos of him on YouTube being knocked out upon falling or falling off the bull and smashing his helmet.

Experts know that rates of anxiety and depression are very high in people with post-concussion syndrome. Helmets do not prevent concussion, they merely protect the skull. For professional bull riders there is an inherent ‘toughness’ and pressure to compete among athletes. In addition to social pressures, if they don’t ride, they don’t get paid.

A post mortem of Mr. Pozzobon revealed that he had CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) a brain condition found in boxers, hockey players, football players and others who suffer repeated head trauma. CTE impacts brain function causing cognitive impacts and physical deficits. It also causes personality changes and is a progressive degenerative condition that cannot be stopped.

It is likely a good think that Mr. O-Flynn has stopped competing. Let’s hope that his future is bright.

Posted under Accident Benefit News, Brain Injury, Concussion Syndrome, concussion, traumatic brain injury

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