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  • Ollie Seymour

Using Nacsport Video Analysis Software for Jockey Injury Prevention

Daloni Lucas MSc BSc (Hons) HCPC MCSP is an Advanced Practice Physiotherapist and has worked with the likes of the Ospreys, Welsh Rugby Union and the Injured Jockeys Fund. For the past 12 years, she has been providing race day physiotherapy and acute trauma management to professional jockeys at racecourses across the south of the UK. Daloni is currently studying for her PhD at the University of Bath. The focus of the PhD is the analysis and prevention of Spinal Injuries in Horse Racing using video analysis. The research is a collaboration with the British Horseracing Authority and is being funded by the charity The Racing Foundation.

The Study

In horse racing, there is always the dangerous possibility of falling. In fact, jockeys fall very frequently. Jump jockeys will fall 1 in every 20 races, with 20% of these falls resulting in injury. For flat jockeys, the fall incidents are a lot lower, about 1 in 250, with 35% of these resulting in injury [1]. So, there is a high risk of falls and, ultimately, a high risk of injury. Between 2015 and 2017, over 25% of all injuries occurred at the head and the spine [2], of varying severity. Ranging from a minor whiplash injury to complete paralysis.

The British Horse Racing Authority approached the University of Bath on the back of their research into rugby scrummage engagement and the resulting changes to safer scrum engagement rules. The first stage of Daloni’s study was to use historical video footage to understand and categorise the fall events to see how and why falls were happening, in order to identify what the risk factors were present and if any of these risk factors could be modified to reduce future fall and injury risk. For every video where a jockey sustained a spinal injury, she would review 4 more videos of similar falls where the jockey didn’t get injured.

Video Analysis with Nacsport

The framework used to systematically analyse the video footage considers everything from the environment to the competitive scenario, to the biomechanics of the fall and then the sequence of impact sustained. The video analysis framework consists of over 270 descriptors and 70 categories and would need to be featured within her Nacsport template. This is a huge amount of data to be collected for each race. Daloni uses Nacsport Pro Plus and makes great use of its panel flows and cluster buttons which have proven vital for her to gather the data efficiently. The cluster buttons help reduce the number of clicks, in fact, they half the amount of time to input the data. The panel flows help to better layout a large number of buttons in the template and clearly visualise the chain of notation. The data from the video analysis is then used alongside epidemiology data (official race reports, jockey weight and history of injuries, such as concussion).

The other side of the study is more related to the safety garments. Jockeys wear a protective helmet and a body protector. These are really considered the two main safety measures and injury prevention strategies used in horse racing. Whether these garments are used in the correct manner is a topic Daloni is looking into in a controlled way. She is doing this by surveying all professional jockeys in the UK and following up with interviews to better understand the experiences and preferences of professional jockeys in relation to their safety wear which might influence how a safety garment is used.

Daloni also did a spinal kinematics study where she used motion capture and marked up the whole of the trunk, the pelvis, and the upper limbs. Subjects then did spinal movements with or without the garment to see whether there was any restriction. So this part of the research is very broad and covers many areas.

What Happens Next

The next step with the findings of the video analysis, particularly the biomechanical descriptors, is to feed them into a computer simulation. What this means is that they will use the same sort of computer programming that they did with the rugby scrummaging and they can use ‘what-if’ scenarios. So by using a computer simulator, they can subject jockeys to those injurious loads and understand the biomechanical patterns that are potentially more harmful.

Daloni’s study is still ongoing with lots of videos still to be analysed and coded. Depending on the findings of the study there could be multiple outcomes, such as policy and rule changes, education and training, and safety wear development.

Nacsport has been a fundamental part of this study, specifically in allowing Daloni to efficiently and accurately analyse the video footage and hopefully influence positive change across the industry.

  1. O’Connor, S., et al., Epidemiology of Injury Due to Race-Day Jockey Falls in Professional Flat and Jump Horse Racing in Ireland, 2011-2015. Journal of Athletic Training, 2017. 52(12): p. 1140-1146.

  2. BHA, British Horseracing Authority – Injury Surveillance Data. 2021: Unpublished.

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