New System to Revolutionize Jockey Concussion Safety and Medical Care


Maryland Horsemen’s Health System and HeadCheck Health Join Forces to Revolutionize Jockey Concussion Safety and Medical Care with New System

MedStar Health, Delaware Jockeys Health and Welfare Fund, and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association tailor HeadCheck Health system to improve real-time communication within and between racetracks

MARYLAND – MedStar Health, in conjunction with Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, today 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 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 HIPAA compliant way,” said Robert Colton, Administrator of the Delaware Jockeys Health and Welfare Fund.  “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 robust, dynamic, 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. In the case of a suspected concussion, track staff can now easily report the incident and collect important information to help medical professionals to make a better evidence-based diagnosis. Racetracks will have high-level access to monitor the progress of each injured jockey. The system can be effectively adapted to the specific resources at each racetrack.

“We’re very excited to be working with some of the most experienced and knowledgeable minds in the industry to develop a system specific to horse racing,” said Eric VanderHelm, Project Lead for HeadCheck Health. “We’ll continue to quickly iterate and update the system based on feedback and data analysis to make sure jockeys can receive the care they deserve.”

The pilot program was launched on November 22, 2019 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.

About MedStar Health

At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person, and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at

About Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association is the officially authorized organization that represents, assists, and promotes the interests of Maryland’s Thoroughbred owners and trainers. Membership in the MTHA is automatically extended to all licensed Maryland owners and trainers.

About Delaware Jockeys Health and Welfare Fund

The Delaware Jockeys Health and Welfare Fund is a State of Delaware mandated program funded for the health and other welfare benefits for active, disabled, and retired jockeys. The program has been nationally recognized for its proactive health and safety programs including contracting with Premier Physical Therapy and Sports Performance for providing a certified athletic trainer with a treatment room inside the jockeys’ room.

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