Spar Smart! – Study Shows Long Term Brain Dysfunction More Related to Intensity of Sparring Than Frequency of Knockouts

Posted: April 10, 2013 in Safety Studies, Uncategorized

canadian mma law boxing headgear imageConventional wisdom has long held that hits resulting in loss of consciousness were the primary factor in long term cognitive dysfunction in athletes.  New research continues to shed light on this assumption and it is becoming clearer that while concussive events can lead to long term harm, cumulative sub-concussive events take their own toll.

In a boxing specific study published earlier this year in the Journal of Clinical Science research demonstrated that  “functional impairment was more related to the volume and intensity of sparring during training than the frequency of knockouts inflicted during competition.”

This finding should serve a strong reminder that it is vital to protect your head not only in competition but in training.  Repeated blows to the head take their toll and current research demonstrates that sub-concussive events do add up.  There is nothing wrong with training hard but protect your head and spar smart.  There is no need to repeatedly rattle your brain in order to improve your craft!

Comments
  1. [...] As an MMA fan and lawyer who deals with the consequences of concussive injuries in my professional life I have conflicting feelings when it comes to witnessing a knock out in combat sports.  It is exciting end to a fight but there are well understood potentially long term consequences that stem from concussive injury (and also exposure to frequent sub-concussive forces). [...]

  2. […] As an MMA fan and lawyer who deals with the consequences of concussive injuries in my professional life I have conflicting feelings when it comes to witnessing a knock out in combat sports.  While it is the most exciting way a fight can end there are well understood potentially long term consequences that stem from concussive injury (and also exposure to frequent sub-concussive forces). […]

  3. […] their careers have a greater chance of developing this degenerative disease.   The relationship of brain dysfunction and exposure to repeated sub-concussive trauma is also becoming better unders…. As the long term health of more retired athletes is studied, a greater understanding of this […]

  4. […] careers have a greater chance of developing this degenerative disease.   The relationship of brain dysfunction and exposure to repeated sub-concussive trauma is also becoming better unders…. As the long term health of more retired athletes is studied, a greater understanding of this […]

  5. […] As previously discussed, it is now well understood that combat athletes often sustain some of the worst trauma through training, not only be being exposed to possible concussions but through the accumulation of multiple sub concussive blows.  TJ Grant should be commended not only for his personal sacrifice in the name of his health but for being an example to all combat sport participants that brain health should not be sacrificed for short term gain. […]

  6. […] As previously discussed intense and frequent sparring can have more negative effects on brain function than the frequency of knockouts in competition.  A further study addressing the effects of cumulative subconcussive hits was recently published in the journal Neurology.  You can find an abstract of the study here. […]

  7. […] If you want the Cliff’s Notes version the bottom line is further research is needed but there is some promise of earlier diagnosis of CTE.   It will take years before there is any certainty to the possibility of earlier diagnosis and there is no indication whether the condition will be able to be diagnosed before the point of no return.  All combat athletes should know that there is no good guage on when you have exposed yourself to one hit too many.  If you choose to compete in combat sports it is vital to take precautions minimizing how much head trauma you expose yourself to over a career. […]

  8. […] suggesting that repeated sub concussive hits (ie – checking in hockey, contact in football and striking in combat sports) do take their toll over […]

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