Archive for December, 2012

If you are looking for a quick introduction to concussive injuries (or if you need an aid for explaining concussions to others), this video by Dr. Mike Evans from the Sport Concussion Library,  is a great starting point.

Given the problems that concussions in sports can create members of Parliament and BC’s Legislature have introduced Bills to attempt to regulate the problem.

On the Federal side Bill C-319 ,The National Strategy for Serious Injury in Amateur Sport Act, has been introduced.  The text of the Bill can be found here.  This Bill seeks to create a “national strategy” to reduce concussions in sports.  If passed the Bill would require the Minister of State to convene a national conference with a view to establishing

  • a program to track incidence rates and the associated economic costs of injuries in amateur sport
  • guidelines regarding prevention, identification, treatment and management of concussions in amateur athletes
  • guidelines that must be met before athletes are allowed to return to sport after suffering a concussion
  • submissions for Criminal Code amendments making it an offence for “a coach or any other person in authority” to knowingly permit a concussed participant to return to sport without meeting return to play guidelines
  • national standards for the training of coaches and other persons involved in amateur sport
  • standardized educational programs for coaches and other persons involved in amateur sport

This is a private members bill introduced by Glenn Thibeault.  Given its slow progress (it has not advanced beyond First Reading despite being introduced in June 2011) it does not seem likely to pass into law.  I have contacted Glenn about the Bill’s status but as of the date of publication I have not yet heard back from him.

On the Provincial side, Dr. Moira Stilwell, BC’s Minister of Social Development, introduced Bill M-206-2011 The Concussions in Youth Sport Safety Act.  This bill, if passed, will designate certain sports as “high risk” and would require the following:

  • the creation of guidelines by high risk youth sport organizations to education coaches, athletes and parents about concussions
  • mandatory removal of concussed participants from competition
  • prevention of a concussed athlete from returning to play until receiving clearance from a designated health care professional

This Bill can be applauded for its educational component without unnecessary red-tape.  The Bill is a work in progress and is not anticipated to pass into law with the current government.  Dr. Stilwell herself confirmed as much to me via Twitter with the following message.  Given the uncertainty of BC’s upcoming election it is far from clear about whether this bill will ever become law:

Dr Stillwell Reply

kids sparring photo

With findings that may catch many opponents of MMA and other striking sports off guard, the Canadian Paediatric Society recently published an article discussing injury risks of youth boxing participation.

The article’s final recommendation opposing boxing for youth is not surprising given the Canadian Medical Association’s view that “all boxing be banned in Canada“.  The Canadian Paediatric Society’s opposition appears more grounded in the fact that boxing  “encourages…direct blows to the head and face” than actual injury risk when compared to other sports.  What is more noteworthy than the report’s conclusions are various observations set out in the body of the report which include the following:

1. The overall risk of injury in amateur boxing seems to be lower than in some other collision sports such as football, ice hockey, wrestling and soccer

2.  The prevalence of injury from combat sports requiring admission to a hospital in Canada is not much higher for boxing (with a rate of 4.8%) as compared to 3.6% for Judo, 3.1% for Karate, and 2.9% for wrestling.

3.  The concussion rate for amateur boxing is also not far off the mark when compared to other “collision sports” with studies indicating rates as follows:

  • Amateur Boxing – 0.58 per 100 athlete exposures
  • Hockey 0.28 per – 100 athlete exposures
  • High School Rugby – 0.38 per 100 athlete exposures

Concussions and other injury risks are a reality of any contact sport and I don’t publish this data with a view of undermining these risks in anyway.  It is important, however, to have informed views when discussing the regulation of combat sports and to not assume that the risks to athletes are greater than they are.

Canadian MMA Law Boxing Glove Photo

The Journal of Neurosurgery recently published a useful study addressing  Traumatic Brain Injury exposure from the following five padding combinations:

1.  unpadded (control),

2. MMA glove-unpadded head,

3.  boxing glove unpadded head,

4.  unpadded pendulum-boxing headgear,

5.  boxing glove-boxing headgear.

The study went on to review a total of 17 injury risk parameters.  Unsurprisingly, the study concluded the boxing glove-headgear combination provided the best overall reduction in impact dosage.

The study goes beyond this basic observation, however, and is the first study I am aware of which addresses the effectiveness of combat sport safety gear with respect to hook punches (as opposed to linear punches).

An extract of the article can be found at the  Sport Concussion Library.