University shares winning tips on health of apprentice jockeys

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

24 March 2009: PhD student SarahJane Cullen from Dublin City University in Ireland is studying the health of apprentice jockeys, and has been in Australia getting tips from Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Centre of Physical Activity Across the Lifespan (CoPAAL).

photo: SaraJane Cullen

SarahJane has been consulting CoPAAL’s Exercise Science lecturer Dr David Greene at the University’s Strathfield Campus. Dr Greene is known internationally for his research into the “compromised bone health” of apprentice jockeys.

In particular, SarahJane has been learning to use a $100,000 portable Peripheral Quantitative Computer Tomography (pQCT) bone scanner with Australian apprentice jockeys at Warwick Farm Racecourse.

Her university has just purchased a similar machine, which she will be using in a four-year study of the bone mineral density of Irish apprentice jockeys which she expects will vary according to their nutrition, load bearing exercise and other factors.

“Racing is very big at home, and there is so much money invested in the horses,” SarahJane said. “We hope our research will improve the resilience and recovery of jockeys, who suffer many more fractures than people of similar age and weight.”

She said Dr Greene had also been helping her analyse data. “He’s been extremely helpful. Everything I will be doing will be similar.”

Opportunities exist for ACU to work collaboratively with Dublin City University to investigate, and potentially improve, the musculoskeletal health of apprentice jockeys in the future.

Through CoPAAL, ACU seeks to enhance people’s physical wellbeing and social connectedness.