Not even helmets help pro bull riders stave off concussions

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Serious injuries such as bone fractures and dislocations are occupational hazards for bull riders, but doctors, riders and researchers say concussions are at the top of the list.

The Professional Bull Riders’ circuit provides a stable of doctors, requires helmets for anyone born after 1994 and insists that concussed riders pass a test before getting back in the saddle.

But in this era of concern about head injuries suffered by NFL and NHL players, the lead medical staffer for the pro circuit says he hasn’t seen a drop in the number of concussions despite widespread helmet use.

This sport has no multimillion-dollar contracts or unions. If riders don’t compete, they don’t make money. So many will push themselves to return to competition days after suffering a concussion.