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BHA reviews concussion management protocols

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Press Release

  • BHA welcomes Concussion in Sport project
  • Work already underway to ensure British Racing’s concussion management protocols remain cutting edge
  • Review will focus assessment and treatment on-course, return to competition protocols and education of participants  

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today welcomed the launch of the International Concussion and Head Injury Research Foundation “ICHIRF” and its research project, Concussion in Sport (https://www.ichirf.org/).

At the same time the BHA has announced that it is already reviewing its own concussion management and education protocols to ensure that horseracing remains at the forefront of concussion diagnosis, treatment and management in sport.

For many years British Racing has been viewed as being pioneers in the field of ‘pitchside’ concussion management and treatment, and in post-concussion management and controls on return to competition. Protocols implemented in 2003 by Dr Michael Turner made Racing in Britain the first non-team sport to operate a standardised concussion management program in the World.

In order to ensure that Racing in Britain remains at the forefront of concussion management the BHA has recently begun the process of reviewing these protocols, in conjunction with the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), to ensure they reflect advances in medical science and best practices.

The review will look at both the racecourse assessment and treatment practices and return-to-riding protocols, as well as focusing on education to the sport’s participants about the importance of concussion management, be it on a racecourse or at the yard.

Dr Jerry Hill, Chief Medical Adviser for the BHA, said:

"Racing has, for many years, been recognised as being ahead of the curve when it comes to concussion management, however we cannot be complacent. We are a sport that carries an above average risk of concussion and as science develops so must our policies towards its diagnosis, treatment and care. For this reason we are currently reviewing our concussion protocols to ensure they remain amongst the most comprehensive and rigorous in British and World sport."

This review will focus not only on the day-to-day treatment of concussion, but also, crucially, the education of our participants about the importance of managing concussion properly. We need to ensure that everyone within the sport is aware of the signs of concussion and also the risks associated with competing while suffering from concussion."

One of the risks associated with repeated concussion may be an impact on health in later life, however the existing medical science is not definitive on this point. This is why the Concussion in Sport project is extremely important, not only for those involved in horseracing but indeed all sportsmen and women. We look forward to working with Dr Turner and his team on this project.

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