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Jockey Fights for Mobility After Spinal Cord Injury

Updated May 3, 2023 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

Spinal cord injuries can cause lasting damage and change a person’s life forever. The kind of accident that leads to a serious spinal cord injury can strike anyone, and it pays to use caution and proper safety measures to protect yourself from becoming a victim. One victim of such an injury is speaking out. She has only just set out on the path to recovery, but she hopes her experience can help others avoid similar injuries and inspire other victims not to lose hope.

Accident Details

On July 22, 2015, Oriana Rossi set out to do what she loved doing, what she’d done on many other days in her six years as a professional jockey: ride a horse around a track, do it fast, and do it well. What Rossi couldn’t have known was that on that day, in the fifth race at the Indiana Grand track in Shelbyville, she would be unable to prevent her horse from crashing into another horse that had fallen.

None of the horses were injured, but Rossi and two other jockeys were, one seriously. Rossi came out the worst, with multiple fractures to her neck and spine. It was clear shortly after the accident that the odds were against her: She would likely be paralyzed from the waist down for life.

Recovery Uncertain

Rossi received what is known as an incomplete spinal cord injury. While her injury is complicated and no one can tell her if she will ever walk again, there is a chance. Doctors were initially impressed with how rapidly she progressed after the injury, and she was able to leave a rehabilitation hospital only a month after the injury.

Although still confined to a wheelchair, Rossi has regained some feeling and the ability to move the toes of one foot. How much more she’ll recover is unknown, but her determined attitude and resilience have impressed those who know her. “She’s an inspiration,” says one fellow jockey.

Jockey Injuries Are Common

Reliable up-to-date data on jockey injuries and deaths is difficult to come by. But serious injuries are not rare in this profession. Jockeys and the horses they ride are injured, sometimes seriously, and occasionally they are killed. In fact, less than a year earlier, Rossi had been involved in a track collision at the same venue. Three horses were involved and a promising young jockey was killed.

Unfortunately, more seems to be known about injuries to the horses than to their riders. Research suggests, however, that a jockey can expect to be in a fall every 300 to 500 races, and that more than half of those falls will result in an injury. A significant portion of those injuries are head, neck, and back injuries, which can involve the spinal cord.

Vehicle Crashes and Falls Also Cause Spinal Cord Injuries

Jockeys, of course, are not the only people who suffer spinal cord injuries. Thousands of people suffer a major spinal cord injury, most because of motor vehicle accidents and falls. The prognosis is usually bleak. Many will experience some level of partial recovery, but fewer than 2% will ever reach a full restoration of motion and sensation.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of a spinal cord injury, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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