MedStar Health, in conjunction with Delaware Jockeys Health and Welfare Fund (DJHWF), and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA), announced a new partnership with software company HeadCheck Health to launch an industry-specific electronic injury tracking system with a focus on optimizing concussion safety and medical care at racetracks.

Horse racing is one of the most dangerous sports for athletic injury with concussions accounting for about 8 percent to 15 percent of equestrian-related injuries, according to a 2017 Paulick Report article. To improve the level of care jockeys receive, the sports medicine team at MedStar Health used their experience with professional sports teams to create the Horsemen’s Health System.

This service included the development and implementation of a sport-specific concussion protocol and return-to-ride protocol for any jockey that sustains a suspected concussion.

“We originally reached out to HeadCheck looking for a way to share baseline tests between Delaware and Maryland racetracks in a [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] compliant way,” said Robert Colton, administrator of the Delaware Jockeys Health and Welfare Fund (DJHWF). “Since then, we’ve realized that HeadCheck can be a solution to some of the safety challenges in our industry for many years.”

With the expertise and guidance of MedStar Health, MTHA, DJHWF and others, HeadCheck Health created a new electronic injury tracking system focused on addressing the unique challenges of implementing and mandating concussion protocols at independent racetracks.

HeadCheck is a secure HIPAA compliant system that will help improve track management by allowing clear and immediate communication of suspected injuries and jockey status. This program will help ensure nothing slips through the cracks and all jockeys receive appropriate care before returning to ride.

The pilot program is underway at Laurel Park under the direction of Dr. Kelly Ryan, sports medicine physician for MedStar Health and medical director for the Horsemen’s Health System at Maryland Racetracks, with the goal of nationwide rollout to follow.