Why today is critical in Princess Anne’s recovery, according to concussion expert

A concussion expert explained why today is critical in Princess Anne’s recovery after she was kept in hospital overnight.

The Princess Royal, 73, sustained concussion and minor injuries after she was kicked by a horse at her Gloucestershire estate on Sunday evening.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, brain and cognition expert Natalie Mackenzie explained the first 48 hours after a concussion is a critical time for monitoring.

“Generally, you would look to monitor symptoms for about 48 hours,” she said. “Concussion symptoms should resolve within two weeks but not require a hospital stay. But of course, they’re going to be cautious with a royal.”

The princess is being treated at Southmead Hospital, which is part of the North Bristol NHS Trust and specialises in neuroscience.

It is located around a 45-minute drive from Princess Anne’s Gatcombe Park estate, where the incident took place during a walk.

Princess Anne is currently in hospital after being kicked by a horse (AP)
Princess Anne is currently in hospital after being kicked by a horse (AP)

An air ambulance and other emergency services are reported to have been dispatched to the scene, and treated the princess before she was transferred to the hospital on Sunday.

Anne, who is widely regarded as one of the most hard-working royals, is said to be conscious.

Ms Mackenzie explained why concussions can potentially be more dangerous in elderly people like the 73-year-old.

“Concussions are always potentially dangerous in terms of long-term symptoms if they become more severe,” she added.

“But obviously in an older individual, you've got issues with kind of neck strength in the way that the head moves, which can impact the brain on a set on a more cellular level.

“Concussion often doesn't show up on scans. The damage can be at what's called a diffuse level - so the way that the brain moves inside the head can cause damage, which can cause more significant symptoms that should resolve, but they need to be monitored for that.”

Princess Anne has spent the past two nights in hospital (AP)
Princess Anne has spent the past two nights in hospital (AP)

Ms Mackenzie said horses are one of the leading causes of brain injuries in people, whether they are sustained through riding or other interactions.

“Lots of people think that concussion is just things like nausea and headaches, but it can manifest with things like visual symptoms, dizziness, and sensitivity to light and sound,” she added.

“Potentially in the short term, in this acute phase, [people can experience] some word-finding difficulties.

“Concussion is very varied, which is why it's good that they are monitoring the princess so closely.”

Buckingham Palace said in a statement yesterday that while the princess is expected to make a full and swift recovery, her engagements for the coming week have been postponed.

A spokesperson added: “The King has been kept closely informed and joins the whole royal family in sending his fondest love and well-wishes to the princess for a speedy recovery.”