Horse trainer Ted Walsh said that while jockeys are aware of concussion and its side effects, they are under a lot of pressure to get back up on the saddle as quickly as possible.
Mr Walsh, who is father to Irish Grand National winner Katie Walsh and eight-time champion jockey Ruby, said it is a “vicious circle” .
“Jockeys are under a lot of pressure that if they say they are suffering from concussion and its side effects such as depression then they will not get their place back. Indeed it’s the same for all sports people as they don’t have nine-to-five jobs.”
The former Irish champion amateur jockey added: “A sports person such as a jockey doesn’t have any guarantee of payment if they are suffering from an injury so that’s why they hide injuries so much.
“Despite there being more backup medical help, such as race course doctors and ambulances, jockeys will still try to evade being stood down from a ride. I’m always aware and fearful of Katie and Ruby getting a fall. It’s a terrible worry to have.”
Dr Adrian McGoldrick, chief medical officer with the Turf Club — the regulatory body of Irish horse racing — said there is no real psychological evidence in humans with sports concussion that would back a minimum stand-down period.
”Currently, the stand- down period is based on clinical diagnoses based on impairment. In the recovery phase [after concussion], rest has been the cornerstone of management.
“We now reckon that this actually slows down recovery and that a supervised exercise programme speeds up recovery from concussion according to a concussion in practice conference on sports injury in Germany recently.”
Yet, the conference advised that children and adolescents recovering from sports-related concussion should be monitored from one to four weeks after the injury and should not return to full play until they have successfully returned to school.
However, Dr McGoldrick pointed out that, “the development of headaches, migraines, and depression will be worse following concussion.”
Mr Walsh said jockeys need to “grab the bull by the horns” in a bid to combat depression.
“They shouldn’t lie down under it but they need to push themselves to beat it instead of using it as an excuse in their lives.”