U.S. horse racing, unlike other sports, such as professional football, does not have a concussion protocol on a state level or even a racetrack level. This is significant as a fall from a horse can cause a jockey to suffer a concussion.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that from 2012 to 2016, 36 jockeys reported suffering concussions. However, this does not include those concussions that go unreported. The issue is still being debated in the industry with regards to how a concussion protocol should be implemented and how it should be paid for. This means that when it comes to head trauma, jockeys in Louisiana and elsewhere are receiving inconsistent care. In fact, some horse racing tracks do not even have a trainer or doctor at their facilities who can determine if a jockey is concussed.
When a jockey suffers a concussion, the could be dizzy and nauseated. Moreover, their ability to react may be slowed, their depth perception could be poorer and they could have trouble concentrating. However, without a concussion protocol that will take a jockey out of the races if there is reason to believe the jockey suffered a concussion, jockeys are falling from their horses, striking their head on the ground and then continuing on with the race, despite being concussed.
This is of great concern, as horse racing can be a very dangerous sport. While a jockey takes on a certain risk within the course of the sport, being told to “get back on the horse” after a concussion can cause the jockey to suffer further harm. And, the more concussions a jockey has, the greater the effects of the concussions have on the jockeys for the rest of their lives.
Horse-racing programs need to have staff that are able to properly determine if a jockey has suffered a concussion, and if so, prohibit that jockey to continue racing until his or her condition is treated and improved. Without proper safety protocols, jockeys are suffering life-long injuries. These injuries can be very costly not just because they could end a jockey’s career, but they could cause the jockey to suffer permanent disability. Those who suffer brain trauma due to the negligence of an entity such as a horse-racing program may want to determine if they can seek compensation for the injuries they suffered.