It has been determined that repeated blows to the head can cause brain injury and, eventually brain damage, in professional sports. Professional football has come under considerable fire because of this, but how about boxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Do participants in these sports also run the risk of brain injuries due to repetitive blows to the head during their matches? The easy answer is “yes.” But how bad is it? See Medical Daily
By now it is a well settled that individuals who suffer repeated blows to the head are at a high risk for brain injury possibly leading to brain damage, loss of brain processing speed, and shrinkage of brain matter. Professional sports teams, players, boxers and MMA fighters, and their managers, as well as the healthcare industry are now admitting that this is definitely a risk factor for the sport participants. It may also lead to the onset of various forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). These conditions are the progressive degenerative function of the brain and can be displayed by memory loss, confusion, aggression, depression, impaired judgment and loss of impulse control, and ultimately death.
The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health did research in this area entitled Professional Fighters Brain Health Study (PFBHS). The participants in the study underwent MRI scans annually, over a period of four years, in order to gauge their brain volume and to test their verbal memory, and their fine motor and processing skills. The study determined that there was a marked decrease in brain volume and processing speeds in both boxers and MMA fighters. However, the decrease was more pronounced in boxers than in MMA fighters, probably due to the fact that boxers are likely to suffer more blows to the head than MMA fighters. See Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
What Happens When the Brain Loses Processing Speed?
Scientists who have studied patterns of the brain are stating that the brain processing speed is just that, it is the rate of speed at which a brain can take in information, process it, reach a decision and make a response. These scientists liken the brain processing speed to an inverted U shaped curve. The brain’s processing speeds up from childhood to adolescence; stabilizes from adolescence to middle age and then reverses and begins to decline as we get older. This is the normal cycle, or pattern for brain function. See ScientificAmerican.com
However, what is happening to some individuals participating in professional boxing and MMA, the cycle changes because of their repeated brain injuries. These individuals suffer from a decrease in processing speed a lot sooner than what would be considered normal. For the boxer and the MMA fighter, there are no current safeguards in place to protect him from his own activities. It is up to him to decide if this is an acceptable risk.
Brain injury leading to either disability or death as a result of brain damage is a very serious matter. To consult with an experienced brain injury attorney on this issue, or if you or a loved one is suffering from a brain injury or a brain trauma due to the actions of another, contact Levin & Perconti at (312) 332-2872 for a free consultation.