NYIT Researcher Awarded Grant to Test Jockey Helmet Safety

June 13, 2018

New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) Center for Sports Medicine has received $15,000 from the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) to fund a future study on concussion and helmet safety.

The award is a critical first step in launching the study, “The Computational Assessment of Helmets and Concussion,” which will be led by NYIT simulation expert Milan Toma, Ph.D., assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering, School of Engineering and Computing Sciences. Using sophisticated simulation software, Toma will test the protection of various helmet designs, and share his data with other researchers examining head trauma in professional sports in order to determine the best head protection under a variety of racing conditions.

“While much of the discussion regarding helmet safety has been focused on other sports, such as football, I am happy to lend my expertise to help deliver much needed awareness for horseracing,” said Toma.

“We take jockey health and safety very seriously,” NYTHA President Joe Appelbaum said. “We are thrilled to be able to help further research in the vital area of head trauma and concussion, so that we will be better able to protect our riders going forward.”

Toma’s research is currently one of two NYIT initiatives aimed at elevating visibility for jockey concussions. Hallie Zwibel, D.O., director, NYIT Center for Sports Medicine, recently partnered with rider advocacy organization The Jockey’s Guild to develop “return to ride” rules that will provide instruction on when injured jockeys can safely return to racing. National protocols do not currently exist in U.S. horseracing.

“As an athlete who experienced firsthand a career-ending traumatic brain injury, I understand the importance of brain/skull protection,” said Ramón Dominguez, former professional jockey, NYTHA member, and advocate for Toma's research. “I’m excited to have the support of the NYIT team while working on helmet safety for my fellow riders and simultaneously raising awareness about this important topic throughout our sport.”

For more information about the Center for Sports Medicine, click here.

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