10/05/2017 12:48PM

Keeneland establishes concussion protocol for jockeys

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – All jockeys who ride at Keeneland this fall will be required to complete a “baseline concussion assessment” as part of a pilot program that is designed to establish protocols for dealing with head injuries, the track announced on Thursday, one day prior to the opening of its meet.

The protocols are based on scientific research conducted worldwide into the effects of concussions that has been embraced by the Jockeys’ Guild, the national organization that represents riders. The pilot program will be overseen by Dr. Carl Mattacola, a University of Kentucky physiologist who specializes in athletic injuries and runs the rehabilitation sciences doctoral program at the school. Mattacola has been working with the guild for several years on establishing the parameters for the program.

“Implementation of a baseline testing protocol and the subsequent guidelines to determine return to participation after a suspected head injury improves medical care and thus prevention of more serious injury,” Mattacola said, in a release distributed by Keeneland.

A similar program was put in place at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland earlier this year.

Under the program, every jockey who rides at Keeneland will be required to maintain an active account in the Jockey Health Information System, a database that was launched in 2008 and designed in part by Dr. Barry Schumer, Keeneland’s medical director. The account will include the scores from the baseline concussion assessment, which will be used for comparison purposes anytime a rider appears to suffer a head injury.

The Guild has been pressing tracks to implement the protocols, but it has faced its own delays in devising the tests. The tests were recently reviewed and approved by the Guild’s board of directors, the organization said.

“It is our belief that head injuries are one of the most pressing issues that jockeys and their families face today,” said Terry Meyocks, the national manager of the Guild.

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