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Paris Conference: British jockeys first to test new concussion procedure.

Byline: Howard Wright

BRITISH jockeys will set a world first in horseracing next year, when they take part in a new procedure to deal with concussion. Fixed periods of suspension from riding will be replaced by weekly examinations that will decide when a jockey is fit to return to the saddle.

The move to bring British racing in line with a number of other sports, which was outlined by Dr Michael Turner, the Jockey Club's chief medical adviser, in Paris this week, has taken four years to bring to fruition.

Turner said: "There is no scientific basis for fixed suspensions, which were introduced 25 years ago. No other medical condition would be treated in the same way as it was in 1977 - other than a vasectomy!

"The problem with concussion is that it is not taught in medical school, and there is a wide variation in the ability of different doctors to assess the severity of a concussive

injury.

"However, it is possible to provide a standard method of assessing and managing concussion, through a

scientifically validated protocol that is applicable to all sports."

Turner said there were two separate issues to be considered when dealing with concussion in a jockey - immediate diagnosis on the racecourse and clearance to return to race riding. "And they must not be confused," he stressed.

All jockeys in Britain will undergo neuro-psychological screening next year, to provide the baseline assessment against which future testing for concussion can be measured, and the process will be repeated annually.

Turner explained: "Reaction times deteriorate with time, so it's vital to have an accurate baseline each year."

All racecourse doctors will receive training to carry out the standard assessment protocol at the track, and jockeys diagnosed with concussion will be suspended for a minimum of six to eight days. They will be sent home in the care of a responsible adult and not allowed to drive.

Re-assessment will take place

seven days later, and a comparison made with the original on-course test. The process will be repeated until the jockey's clinical and neuro-

psychological parameters have matched his baseline assessment.

A budget has been agreed by the Jockey Club for the new process, which will cost pounds 85 a year for every jockey, and involves setting up a regional network of 11 testing centres, with specialists in each region to review the results and examine jockeys.

Jockey Club chief executive, Christopher Foster said: "We believe the new system will at last provide a scientific basis for the suspensions we impose on jockeys following concussion on the racecourse."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 10, 2002
Words:429
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