Is It Even Possible for Boxers to Avoid Brain Injuries?

The connection between certain sports and long-term head injury complications have been much-discussed in recent years. Advances in brain injury detection and new studies on the lifelong harm often attributed to those injuries has focused critical attention on the games that many play beginning as children which might increase the risks. Sports like football, hockey, soccer, and boxing have received the lion’s share of attention. They are all games where significant, repeat head trauma are ingrained in the sport. Experts are still unraveling the mysteries of how much playing these games repeatedly affects the rest of the player’s lives.

For one of those sports, some are now questioning whether it is at all possible to play without being harmed. In other words, the discussion has shifted from “risks that an injury will develop” to “seven slight chances that one can escape unscathed.”

Boxing and Brain Injury
A recent article on the subject recently shared the results of some new findings that a shocking 90% of all boxers suffer from a brain injury. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, nearly nine in ten boxers suffer the dangerous head trauma as a result of their activity. Obviously the risk of harm comes as no surprise, considering the entire sport is based on applying significant forceful blows to one’s head. However, the overall scope of the injury problem is still stark.

One physician interviewed for the story explained it directly: “It is just repetitive trauma to the head – like whiplash on a daily basis. The brain has very little space to move inside the skull. It is never good to have repetitive trauma on an incased organ. Even if you have strong neck muscles, the punches will take its toll.”

The latest findings on the harm to boxers came in November when researcher published results in a study that examined the total number of injuries in the sport over a period of years.

So what can be done?

There are many different options. However, most obviously, the use of headgear was found to greatly reduce the risk of long-term harm. Headgear is used in amateur boxing. But the high-profile professional athletes still do not wear any head guard. There is a cultural association with the exposed head and the biggest boxing matches, and those most familiar with the sport, suggest that it is unlikely changes will be made. Until that time, many boxers will face the severe consequences of a life in the ring. One expert on the subject quipped, “Look at Muhammad Ali and all the blows to the head he took. He now deals with Parkinson’s. Think of Joe Louis, he ended with dementia.”

Whatever long-term changes do or do not come about in the sport as a result of these findings, it is critical that the most vulnerable participants–children–be protected. Rules, safety equipment, and other factors must be properly analyzed to ensure that participation in a game does not permanently alter one’s life trajectory.

If you or someone you know suffers a traumatic brain injury which may have been caused in any way by the misconduct, neglect, or negligence of another party, please get in touch with our Illinois brain injury attorneys to see how we can help.

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