FEI Addresses Medical Chiefs on Equine Injury Surveillance

Yves Rossier, DVM, vice chair of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Veterinary Committee, delivered a presentation on equine injury surveillance at the annual International Olympic Sports (IOC) Federations' Medical Commission Chairpersons conference held at the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, Oct. 18.

The Canadian, who was head of the Olympic veterinary clinic in Greenwich Park at the London 2012 Olympic Games, took a year's sabbatical leave from his work as professor of equine sports medicine at the University of Montreal to complete a study on injury surveillance in FEI horses.

The FEI-funded study on equine injuries also involved analysis of the approaches taken by other sports regulators, including the IOC, international equestrian federations, and horse racing authorities. One of the key objectives of the study was to review injury surveillance programs (human and equine) in order to fine-tune the existing FEI protocol and introduce an improved model for FEI events.

The FEI has been collecting basic injury data from its events for some time, and is currently developing a comprehensive database specifically for equine athletes. The main purpose of the database, once sufficient statistics have been collected, will be to help in the prevention of injuries. Similar databases are used in other global sports.

"The conference was a wonderful opportunity to hear what the other international sports federations are doing about injury surveillance, and to present the FEI's approach so that we could all learn from each other," Rossier said. "This is part of making sports as safe as possible and maintaining our absolute commitment to the welfare of our athletes."

Peter Whitehead, acting chair of the FEI Medical Committee and Chief Medical Officer for the Olympic equestrian events at Greenwich Park, also addressed the conference yesterday, and spoke afterwards about the value of such gatherings. "This is the only meeting where sports medical commissions get together to compare their concerns and learn from each other. It's a very valuable meeting," he said.

The IOC is currently working on producing standardized injury surveillance for use by the different sports bodies. The FEI Medical Committee has been involved in discussions on this issue with the IOC over the past year.

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