GBO docs behind the scenes at the Reno Rodeo

We attend the Reno Rodeo every year to enjoy the prowess of the cowboys and the livestock, but what happens when an athlete gets hurt?

According to a recent study published with the National Center for Biotechnology Information: “Prevalence of injury is high, especially in rough stock events, which include bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding. In bull riding, the incidence of injury is reported at 32.2 injuries per 1000 competitor-exposures. While a number of different injuries can occur during bull riding, concussions are often the most alarming.” 

Dr. Travis Kieckbusch and Dr. Christopher Dolan volunteer their medical services to the Reno Rodeo every year. They do so by working with the Justin Sports Medicine Team, a mobile sports medicine system that provides comprehensive medical support services to professional rodeo athletes across the country.

A rite of passage for many northern Nevadans, Dr. Kieckbusch grew up with rodeo. He, along with his mom, uncles, and now his wife and kids, have all participated in the sport and endured the injuries that inevitably come with it. His love of rodeo carried into his professional career where Dr. Kieckbusch focuses much of his practice on sports-related injuries.

“Rodeo athletes are the toughest and most hard-working athletes I take care of. They are also the most appreciative,” said Dr. Kieckbusch. “They do not have the resources that most professional, or even collegiate athletes, have but they use whatever they have to continue in the sport they love. I truly enjoy taking care of these individuals.” 

Dr. Dolan started volunteering for the Reno Rodeo at the request of Dr. Kieckbusch. “He’s been a cowboy from way back and so this was important to him,” Dr. Dolan said. “Since it was important to him, it became important to me and these are some of the most appreciative athletes I’ve ever worked with.”

Dolan says that rodeo cowboys, while appreciative, also tend to be stubborn. “The injury has to be pretty bad for them to choose not to compete, but we can still override them,” he said. “It is not uncommon for us to put them in an ambulance and send them to hospital in the middle of the rodeo.”

When injuries aren’t addressed immediately, they could result in permanent damage. “If an athlete damages his ankle (something that is pretty common) and it’s not addressed, it could damage other areas of the body,” Dr. Dolan explained. “This could mean permanent damage and perhaps losing their athletic careers.”