University of Calgary sports epidemiologist Dale Butterwick, a leader in the field of rodeo injury study and treatment, is opening a registry for catastrophic injuries in pro rodeo to get a better idea of how frequently cowboys around the world are seriously hurt.
"As of today," says Butterwick, "anyone, anywhere in the world can access this database and report a catastrophic injury. By catastrophic we mean life-changing, losing a major organ, paralysis, even death. We need to know how these injuries occur and how often before we can meaningfully look for interventions."
Once a catastrophic injury has occurred, Butterwick and a team of epidemiologists from the Cowboy's Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) and the U of C's Faculty of Kinesiology will investigate the report to fully understand how the injury occurred and what might be done to prevent it in the future.
Butterwick hopes this information it will lead to increased safety for rodeo athletes and that the data will enhance support for research into rodeo injury prevention.
"How much is the death of one 20-year-old cowboy worth? What's the cost to society? What about to his family? What's the cost to the health care system for a cowboy crushed by a bull in competition who is paralyzed for the rest of his life?" Butterwick says. "Until you know the extent of the problem, you can't effectively find solutions."
Butterwick's registry is also retroactive, meaning that people can enter information about previous catastrophic injury. "Memory isn't always 100% accurate," he says, "but it can at least give us an idea of how often this might have occurred in the past."
Butterwick hopes to use this information to support the creation of an international centre for rodeo research excellence. The centre would pull together education of cowboys, healthcare professionals and clinicians to service cowboys competing in athletic events and conduct research, with the idea of making the sport of rodeo safer for cowboys and finding more effective interventions to prevent serious injury.
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