06/13/2016 12:24PM

University of Kentucky, Jockeys' Guild to begin concussion study

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky and the Jockeys’ Guild will launch a three-year pilot study this summer designed to produce a management protocol for jockeys who have recently suffered concussions or are experiencing concussion-like symptoms, the two organizations announced Monday.

The study, which is being supported by all Kentucky racetracks, will be overseen by Carl Mattacola, a professor in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Kentucky who has conducted research into concussions suffered by jockeys in the past. The study will require Kentucky riders to undergo a Sport Concussions Assessment Tool test to provide a baseline for the evaluation of any post-concussion symptoms, a release from the organizations said.

The test, which is used by a variety of sporting organizations, will be conducted by a “specialized health-care provider” who will be available at all of Kentucky racetracks, the release said.

The Jockeys’ Guild has been seeking to formulate a concussion protocol for riders for several years, citing in part the efforts by other sports to devise strategies to deal with head injuries. In a presentation last year at the Jockey Club Welfare and Safety Summit, Mattacola presented data showing that jockeys suffered concussions in 8.6 percent of falls from 2012 to 2015.

“We want to give the jockeys who suffer head injuries the best science has to offer, and an important first step towards that goal is to generate data from which an appropriate management protocol can be developed,” Mattacola said in the release.

The study will lean on the Jockey Health Information System, a database launched in 2008 to track rider injuries. The database is managed by The Jockey Club.  

“The pilot study and the resulting concussion-management protocol will finally bridge the gap that exists between horse racing and other major sports to further protect our human athletes,” said Terry Meyocks, the national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild, whose daughter is married to leading rider Javier Castellano.