MedStar Health offering leg up for jockey health with innovative concussion protocol

Posted at 11:20 PM, May 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-17 23:20:58-04

Speeds of over 40 miles per hour, perched atop massive thoroughbreds

A jockey is susceptible to a career or life-threatening injury at any moment.

Hall of fame jockey Edgar Prado just won his 7,000 race, and he’s fallen too many times to count.

 “It’s noisy, you’re going 30-40 miles an hour and it’s not only the fall it’s the horses that come behind you,” said Prado.  “Every horse tries to avoid you but unfortunately you fall off and the horse behind you they fall off and it’s a chain reaction.”

He said the sport has gotten a lot safe over the years and is moving in the right direction

“The helmet used to be just carbon fiber without too much padding, now it’s a bigger helmet with more pads and absorbs the shock of the impact so you don’t get a bad concussion.”

These are athletes and concussions come with the territory of the fast-paced races.

David Richardson, the Executive Director of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association said preparing for and treating concussions is crucial to stay ahead of the curb.

 “These horses are going 40 Miles an hour it’s really like a car crash,” Richardson said.

The team at MedStar health developed the first of its kind jockey concussion protocol.

Dr. Kelly Ryan is the Racetrack Physician for Laurel, Timonium, and Pimlico.

She said that every contact sport has a concussion protocol so horse racing should too.

 “You could potentially make a bad move, react slower. When these guys fall we’re not just talking about mild injuries here it could even be fatal,” Ryan said.

In Maryland, when a jockey or horse handler is diagnosed with a concussion they have to prove they've recovered.

 “We actually use a horse simulator or like a riding simulator so we don’t actually put them on a horse yet,” Ryan said.

They do everything they can to make sure the horse and jockey make it ot the winners circle in one piece.

“They could even just head butt you, that happens and it can lead to a second injury and that’s one of the things we’re really trying to prevent is another head injury when the first ones not recovered."

The Preakness is second leg of the Triple Crown at the Pimlico Race Course.

The expected post time is 6:20 p.m.