January 25, 2011 -- The Riders4Helmets Helmet Safety Symposium held Jan. 8th in Wellington, FL was deemed a huge success by participants at the event. Representatives from USEF, USDF, USEA, USHJA, racing, polo, helmet manufacturers, helmet testing authorities, leading equestrians and medical experts came together at the symposium with the goal of improving rider safety and went away pledging to work together across the disciplines to do just that.
Kemi O'Donnell, mother of deceased Christen O'Donnell kicked off the presentations by emotionally discussing her daughter's death at the age of 12 from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). USEF President David O Connor spoke next and vowed that USEF will commit to support making helmets mandatory at competitions. "If you have the technology available to reduce head injuries you have to use it and the time is now" said O'Connor.
Dr. Allen Sills, a Vanderbilt neurosurgeon with expertise in sports traumatic brain injury and concussion, gave several presentations at the symposium. Other speakers included: Debbie Stanitski, President of the Equestrian Medical Safety Association; Dave Halstead with Southern Impact Research on current testing standards; Sara Ike USEF on the history of helmet rules; Dean Moran with Safety Equipment Institute; Tom Cafaro with G-Form LLC; Beezie Madden (jumping), Anne Kursinski (jumping), PJ Cooksey (racing), Lauren Sammis (dressage) and Peter Rizzo (polo) in a panel discussion; and presentations from the helmet manufacturers.
John Long CEO at USEF summed up during the closing presentation of the symposium. His thoughts included that there is a need for more data, science and education and to make wearing helmets cool. "We need to find a way to implement the rules so that it's no longer optional, and it's easy to regulate. It is incumbent on my organization to get my house right to be a model for the more casual rider" said Long.
To view presentations and interviews from the symposium visit www.youtube.com/user/riders4helmets.
Craig Ferrell, M.D. Physician for the United States Equestrian Team and chair of the FEI Medical Council stated "I am pleased with the positive response to the helmet symposium in Wellington. The participants heard informative presentations from a variety of key individuals in the equestrian world. This gathering of stakeholders in our sport was unprecedented. It is important to continue this discussion and not lose the momentum we have initiated with this symposium."
The symposium was sponsored by USEF, Troxel Helmets, Charles Owen, GPA, Tipperary Helmets and Samshield Helmets. For more information on the Riders4Helmets campaign or the Helmet Safety Symposium, visit www.riders4helmets.com or contact Lyndsey White at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Riders4Helmets was founded in early 2010 after Olympic dressage rider Courtney King Dye was seriously injured in a riding accident. King Dye, who remained in a coma for a month following her accident, was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident and is currently undergoing rehabilitation. Jeri Bryant donated her helmet campaign t-shirts (featuring the slogan "Strap One On-Everyone's Doing it") to an eBay store set up to raise funds for King Dye, and a partnership was formed, resulting in the Riders4Helmets campaign.
For a chance to win an International Riding Helmet, upload a photo of yourself wearing a ASTM-certified helmet to Dressage Today's Show Us Your Helmet Contest.