The Jockeys’ Guild teamed up with the University of Kentucky April 7 in an effort to promote awareness about spinal cord and brain injuries.
Doctors from the university’s Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center hosted Terry Meyocks, who serves as the Guild’s national manager, as well as jockeys John Velazquez, Edgar Prado, and Alan Garcia, among others. Velazquez is the chairman of the Guild’s board of directors.
“It is about education and communication,” said Meyocks. “It is important, there’s no question about it. It builds awareness.”
Throughout the course of the afternoon, various doctors involved with SCoBIRC presented information on brain and spinal cord injuries as well as ongoing research in their fields of expertise.
“There is nothing we can do about the primary injury, at least not initially, but much of the damage that occurs is due to what we call a secondary injury,” said director Dr. Edward Hall. “Most of the research in the area, including our own, is aimed at finding drugs that can be given early after a brain or spinal cord injury to try to salvage the tissue by protecting it and preventing the secondary injury.”
After the presentations, the doctors escorted the group through the laboratories where they conduct their research. The space is designed as an open office to encourage interaction between the researchers.
SCoBIRC was established in 1999 with a mission to “repair the injured central nervous system and promote restoration of function.”
“(We have tours) whenever there is a group that wants to come through and learn about what we are doing,” said Hall. “We are pleased to have the beginnings of a relationship with the (horse racing) industry because we think what we do is very relevant.”
Touring the research center was just one step in furthering the education of those involved in horse racing.
“We have been talking to the racetracks and the industry about minimum standards--from first response to going to the hospital,” said Meyocks. “We also need to update our standards on helmets and safety vests. It’s not only jockeys, but exercise riders.”