Equine surgeon Dr. Larry Bramlage is at Belmont Park and ready to serve as the designated veterinarian for the American Association of Equine Practitioners' on-call program during the media coverage of the June 8 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) card.
Bramlage, 61, was hospitalized in Louisville, Ky., after falling from the back of a golf cart and hitting his head on the Churchill Downs stable area May 2. He was in Louisville to serve as the on-call vet for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) program.
The AAEP on-call program is designed to deliver accurate veterinary information to broadcast and print journalists regarding the health of equine athletes for big events. Dr. Mary Scollay stepped in as the on-call vet for the Derby, while Dr. Scott Palmer served as the AAEP on-call vet for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
"I'm doing fine," Bramlage said. "I hit the back of my head and it was at the place where your balance was controlled, but I never had any memory loss, fine motor loss, any of that stuff. The only thing that really had to come back was, whenever I changed from sitting to standing or bent over to tie my shoes or something like that, I was getting a little light-headed, but that's slowly gone away."
Bramlage spent time at University Hospital in Louisville after his fall. Bramlage was hospitalized again May 8 to undergo further CAT scans and treatment. He was medically cleared to return to work the week of May 15.
"Of course, always when you hit your head, they worry about the blood clot, that it doesn't keep getting bigger and that it absorbs quickly, and I was good on both counts—it stopped bleeding within a couple hours and it was absorbed within a week."
Bramlage said he had stepped onto the back of a golf cart, standing where the clubs are supposed to be, and when the driver accelerated, the golf cart "kind of did a wheelie."
"He turned at the same time and we were going forward, so when it came back down on the ground it made a right-angle turn and I was thrown over the right side of the fender," Bramlage said.
The surgeon said he felt well enough to work the Preakness, but was not cleared to fly.
"They don't want you to fly for a month on the chance that the blood clot would start bleeding," he said. "I've been working for three weeks. It's great to be back in the routine, and you appreciate the little things a lot better when you get taken out for a while, so I think it makes everything more enjoyable."