Horse racing begins in Pune, medical services offered to injured jockeys

Horse racing in India is over 200 years old and is a well-established and a breeding industry. This year’s racing season has begun in Pune; doctors say that the casualties that the jockeys suffer are unusual as they are exposed to serious injuries of brain, spinal cord, lung, abdomen and thoracic region during racing. To tackle this, an ambulance service which is managed by doctors at Jehangir hospital in Pune, is offering emergency medical services to the injured jockeys

Horse racing begins in Pune, medical services offered to injured jockeys

Raghav (name changed), last week, suffered two major fractures along with head injury, while he was riding his horse during the race at Royal Western Indian Turf Club (RWITC’s) race course in Pune. He was offered an emergency medical service on the race course and was saved during the crucial ‘golden hour’ period after an accident. In India, horse racing is well-established and a breeding industry. While this year’s racing season has begun in Pune, doctors point out that not much is known about the type of medical casualties on the race course and the level of risks the jockeys carry during race.

Casualties that jockeys suffer during races are a typical which requires an immediate medical attention. Doctors say that the casualties that the jockeys get are unusual as they are exposed to serious injuries of brain, spinal cord, lung, abdomen and thoracic region during racing.

Dr-Fiyaz-Pasha
Dr Fiyaz Pasha

Quite often, horses trample on fallen jockey resulting in chest decompression. In such cases, if the immediate medical service is not provided it may result in a cardiac arrest. Head injuries with damage to cervical spine, iota rupture, chest trauma, pelvic trauma, bone fractures and facial injuries are commonly seen injuries on the race course.

An ambulance service managed by doctors at Jehangir hospital in Pune offers its service for the jockeys. Ambulance makes continuous trips to the race course along with the assorted sheeds and fillies.

Dr Fiyaz Pasha, who is on call with the ambulance and  the head of emergency department at Pune’s Jehangir hospital said, “Mechanism of injury at race course is different than the normal road accident injuries. Last year we had treated 12 casualty cases on race course. Since the last 14 years, Jehangir hospital is offering emergency medical service to these jockeys.”

He further said “We also teach survival techniques to these jockeys. While falling, jockey should not give its head first. The protective techniques keep these jockeys guarded.”

The ambulance is well-equipped with state-of-art equipment like the scooper, which enables the patient to be picked up from the ground, After an injury eliminating manual handling, cervical trauma collar, which enables the firm securing of the neck, in case, of an injury  And extremity leg and hand splints, used for fractures.

Mallesh Narredu, (50) AN ex-jockey and now, a trainer at RWITC’s race course in Pune, said, “These young jockeys are very lucky to have emergency medical care. Racing is a risky affair and needs a trained handling after the injury. In 1991, when I was injured while riding a horse, people lifted by holding my hand which resulted in dislocation of my elbow. While racing, it is crucial that we get professional aid, when we suffer from an injury.”