Medstar’s Dr. Ryan One Of Many Speakers At International Conference In Dubai On Health And Welfare

MedStar’s Dr. Kelly Ryan, who serves as co-Medical Director and lead physician for the Horsemen’s Health System at Maryland racetracks, was one of many speakers at the International Conference on the Health, Safety and Welfare of Jockeys held Nov. 2-3 in Dubai.

The conference, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates’ city again in two years, had a packed agenda that focused on the following: making weight and riding performance; the implications of making weight; concussion; injuries and falls and how to reduce them; and mental health. Near the end of the two-day event, there were reports and updates from various countries including the United States.

Ryan, who has for several years worked on concussion protocols for riders and has spoken at other conferences, discussed on-track evaluation and updates on management of concussions; returning to ride after an injury; and utilizing physical therapy for improved recovery.


“It was a really fantastic conference,” Ryan said. “I go to a lot of medical conferences with really top-notch content, and this was a very ambitious group in Dubai. Sometimes I feel that no one knows what we’re doing (to help riders), but then you attend a conference like this and see people having the same struggles.

“It gives you hope that we can improve medical care at racetracks.”

The U.S. was also represented by Jeff Johnston, a regional manager for the Jockeys’ Guild and a former rider primarily in Kentucky and Ohio. Other countries that took part included Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

Ryan said she addressed expansion of the “sports medicine model,” which is of particular interest to MedStar and various racing jurisdictions seeking to improve care for jockeys.

“Over and over it was noted jockeys should be treated like athletes, but they also should be training that way,” Ryan said. “Ireland is really the model – they have some great, exciting stuff going on in this regard.”

Ryan is one of five MedStar doctors who provide health services for backstretch workers, racetrack workers and jockeys under the Horsemen’s Health System, which was developed and created by the MTHA in partnership with Maryland Jockey Club. The others doctors in the program include Dr. Frank Dawson, Dr. Christian Glaser, Dr. Jeffrey Mayer and Dr. Jason Podhast.

The Horsemen’s Health System, headquartered in the MTHA office at Laurel Park, is one of, if not the most, advanced program of its kind in racing. The program has been held up as an example for other racetracks in the U.S.

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