Indiana Grand puts focus on concussion identification

Several types of sports have been talked about on the national level in the past year about the affect of concussions on players. Horse racing also falls into this category, and Indiana Grand is working to put a system in place to detect the first signs of concussions, even at the mildest form of symptoms.

Steve Cahill, clerk of scales, and SEALS Ambulance Service, which supplies the EMTs at the track, are part of a new medical movement that is being implemented at Indiana Grand. Cahill and the EMTs will be attending a special class for “Concussion Recognition” to become certified in providing concussion tests on all of the jockeys.

“With all the talk about concussions and sports that is in the news these days, the Jockey’s Guild is working in cooperation with the University of Kentucky to develop some safety precautions for jockeys,” said Cahill. “It will be just like the NFL. When a player takes a hit, they are given a concussion test on the sideline to determine if they can return to the game, retained for a while to be evaluated, or sent for medical attention. We will do the same with the jockeys when one of them is involved in a situation where they are unseated or they take a fall of any kind, we will now be able to evaluate them right in the jock’s room.”

Cahill said the system will be based on a number scale. Each jockey will be given the test to see what their number is when they begin riding at Indiana Grand. This information is retained, and when a jockey is involved in an incident that might cause any concussion activity, either Cahill or the EMTs will administer a concussion test. If the results of that test do not equal the initial test score on file that is considered the normal state, then the jockey will be “benched” for a race or two and retested. If at that point, they still have not recovered to match their initial score, they will either be taken off the rest of the horses for the day or sent for further evaluation by medical personnel, depending on the severity of the score.

Indiana Grand is working with the head of neurologist at IU Methodist to ensure the jockeys are receiving the best possible care for their health and well-being. IU Methodist will be instrumental in providing the class for Cahill and the EMTs.

“Indiana Grand isn’t the first track to implement the new concussion tests in the jock’s room,” said Cahill. “But we are definitely ahead of the curve. The Kentucky tracks are also implementing the concussion tests and are working with UK to develop the best process to detect concussions. In fact, UK is hiring a full time expert in that field to just study the effects of concussions with jockeys.”