MedStar Health Researches Jockey Injuries at Maryland Racetracks

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Researchers across MedStar Health recently published collaborative research which characterized jockey injuries at Maryland racetracks during thoroughbred racing activities over 4 years. This research study examines types and mechanisms of injury among jockeys at Maryland thoroughbred racetracks.  “Injuries Among Maryland Jockeys During Thoroughbred Racing: 2015-2019” was published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine.

MedStar Health sports medicine physicians gathered injury data over 4 years to evaluate and treat injuries experienced by the jockeys. There were 670 jockeys that participated in the 4-year study across 590 races days, and nearly 5600 races and 45,000 mounts. Among these jockeys, there were 204 injuries involving 184 incidents and 131 falls. The vast majority of injuries (80%) was related to soft tissue, while 4% were concussions. Most injuries involved the lower extremity (31%) or upper extremity (26%) and typically resulted from a fall from the horse. Among all falls, 76.3% (n=100) resulted in an injury.

The results showed a significant proportion of injuries (41%) in and around the starting gate. Over a quarter of injuries required further medical care in a hospital or other medical facility, while surgery was required in only 2.5% of injuries.

The research team hopes that more sports medicine clinicians coordinate care with local racing tracks to improve injury data collection to benefit riders’ health and safety internationally.

Kelly D. Ryan, DO from the Family Health Center at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center said, “This study is important because there is limited jockey injury data that has been reported or published in the United States over the past 20 years. Injury data is important to give us a better understanding of our athlete and the consequences of their sport. It also gives us insight into areas that we can focus on improving to try to decrease injuries. Our ability to collect and publish this data as well as manage all of these injuries shows the benefit of integrating a sport medicine team at the racetrack to improve the care and health of jockeys and other workers."

The research team included Kelly Ryan from MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center; Kezia Alexander from MedStar Sports Medicine Research Center; Andrew E. Lincoln from Rehabilitation Medicine, Georgetown University Medical Center and MedStar Sports Medicine Research Center; Gabrielle Garrruppo from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Christine M Hluchan from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, DOI: 10.1136/bmjsem-2020-000926