Putting Cowboys Back in the Saddle at Fiesta de los Vaqueros Rodeo

George Humphrey
Feb. 21, 2001

Rodeo cowboys are generally used to pain, but pretty darned often, injuries demand attention -- and that's when University of Arizona doctors come in.

Every year, UA doctors and medical students leave the ultra-clean environment of the hospital and enter the dusty, grimy world of the professional rodeo rider at La Fiesta de los Vaqueros. They will be on hand just in case a rodeo rider spills off the back of a horse or gets beaten by a 1,500-pound bull.

For more than a decade, Dr. Allan J. Hamilton, has put on his cowboy boots, chaps and hat and volunteered his services to make sure the rodeo is as safe as possible. This year, Hamilton, who is head of surgery at the UA College of Medicine, and other UA doctors and medical students will man a mobile medical unit -- just in case a rodeo rider's injury needs medical attention.

"We will be there to stabilize the riders and either get them back into competition or, if the injury is serious, have them transported to an emergency department," Hamilton said. "Concussions and spine injuries are the two most common injuries at the rodeo; bull riding is the No. 1 event for getting hurt."

A world-renowned neurosurgeon, Hamilton said he always has loved the rodeo and admired cowboys. "They're tough as nails. Where most athletes have trainers, these men and women are alone out there."




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