HISA Introduces First-Ever National Concussion Protocol for Jockeys

October 26, 2023

HISA Press Release

LEXINGTON, Ky.— The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) has introduced U.S. Thoroughbred racing’s first-ever recommended national concussion protocol for jockeys. Under HISA’s Racetrack Safety rules, racetracks are required to implement a concussion protocol for jockeys. HISA’s recommended protocol released today would become mandatory for all racetracks under HISA’s jurisdiction when and if the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approves HISA’s proposed changes to its Racetrack Safety rules submitted last month.

HISA’s national concussion protocol was developed in consultation with leading experts to protect the health and safety of jockeys across the country and brings racing in line with the nation’s other major sports, all of which have uniform concussion management protocols. HISA’s concussion protocol includes clear step-by-step instructions for racetrack medical personnel to follow when evaluating and monitoring riders for potential head injuries.

The new protocol also incorporates the digital concussion management platform HEADCHECK into its reporting process. Under the protocol, racetrack medical staff will use HEADCHECK to document medical evaluations, possible concussion symptoms and written releases permitting a jockey to return to riding after being cleared by a qualified medical provider knowledgeable in concussion management and the skills needed to perform as a jockey. HEADCHECK’s implementation will also see to it that concussion-related medical records follow a rider from track to track and ensure continuity of concussion care across the country. HISA has been working to implement HEADCHECK at racetracks across the country for the last several months.

“In a sport like racing where athletes are at high risk for concussion, it’s crucial for every racetrack to have an established concussion protocol in place to respond to head injuries,” said HISA National Medical Director Dr. Peter Hester. “HISA’s national protocol requires prompt and correct care and clear documentation, which are essential to ensuring jockeys have the best opportunity to make a full recovery from a concussion. To prioritize jockey health, HISA strongly encourages racetracks to adopt this protocol now to help optimize safety throughout the sport.”

Jockeys and their families are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with HISA’s national concussion protocol and will be notified via the HISA portal when updates are made to the protocol. Racetracks under HISA’s jurisdiction are encouraged to post a concussion protocol in a prominent place in the jockeys’ quarters.

HISA is working with racetracks to help educate medical staff and riders on the importance of concussion prevention, diagnosis and treatment – including the new national protocol and its requirements.

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