I recently shared information about the sport most related to traumatic brain injury both world-wide and within the U.S. alone: cycling. After spending Friday evening watching one of Tulsa’s biggest sports event of the year, Tulsa Tough, it isn’t hard to see why brain injuries are so common. No race was safe from crashes and some truly gruesome injuries.
From an uninformed perspective, Friday was enough to make cycling look like a contact sport with the number of riders slamming into each other, flipping over railings, and crashing into the asphalt, but medical staff say the number of wrecks was unusual.
“We’ve worked a good 50 riders tonight,” Jenna Fogg, who is a first-aid volunteer from the OSU Medical Center, told the Tulsa World. “Never in my four years have I seen this on a Friday night. We’ve used half our stock (of medicine and bandages).
The night was capped off by Luke Keough, who wasn’t immune even though he had just won the 60-minute Blue Dome Criterium. Immediately after passing the finish line Keough crashed hard, seeming to take down at least one team mate from where I was standing. His was far from the most brutal of a night which sent over 50 riders to the medical tent, and 2 to the hospital.
The most terrifying wreck of the night came earlier, in one of the first races of the night, the Women’s Pro I 50-minute race. Allison Powers, who had just won a $1,000 prize just laps earlier and Erica Allar were seconds from the finish line, both fighting for the lead position when their wheels touched, sending Allar flying. She was transported to the hospital with a stomach churning head gash and injured knee.
All the riders were wearing proper safety gear, as well as ICEdot sensors which could alert medical staff and family if a rider endured a crash likely to cause brain injury, but the cries from the announcers pleading for medical attention on the track following Allar was enough to make the entire crowd nervous.
It is unclear the extent of her injuries, or if Allar suffered a concussion, but after seeing professionals get terribly hurt over and over, it isn’t surprising to me that riders who forego helmets and other safety equipment are taking the lead on sports-related traumatic brain injuries.