Bull riding injuries in professional rodeo: data for prevention and care

Phys Sportsmed. 2003 Jun;31(6):37-41. doi: 10.3810/psm.2003.06.407.


Recent tragedies in bull riding have highlighted the need for prospective epidemiologic investigation of injury patterns.

Objective: To document the frequency, type, severity, anatomic location, and mechanism of injury to bull riders participating in professional rodeo in Canada.

Design: Five-year prospective cohort study examining 4,375 competitor exposures during bull riding events at selected rodeos. Certified athletic therapists gathered data at 63 of 323 professional rodeos in Canada from 1995 through 1999. Data were included when a registered bull rider was injured and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sport Medicine Team was officially present and providing services. The main outcome measures were the frequency, severity, and anatomic location of injuries to bull riders.

Results: According to the injury classification system (severe, minor, or other), 36% of injuries to bull riders were severe. Fractures were the most common severe injury. Concussions constituted 10.6% of all injuries; neck injuries and concussion with other head and facial injuries accounted for 28.9%. About half (48%) of injuries were minor. The knee and shoulder were the most commonly injured joints.

Conclusion: Injuries to the head, neck, and face may deserve more attention by both researchers and those interested in preventing injury to bull riders. Epidemiologic information will give on-site physicians a better foundation in preparing to care for injured rodeo participants.