As a long time fan of MMA and other combat sports I feel past, current and future athletes are owed a fair and sober discussion of the realities of traumatic brain injury. Yes a bit of common sense tells us these sports have inherent dangers and yes being hit in the head is not good for ones health. That said, the legacy of traumatic brain injury usually builds slowly over time and can be a near invisible problem that deserves its ever increasing attention.
To this end I recently came across a video and medical case study from storied MMA veteran Guy Mezger who has been left with a legacy of traumatic brain injury after ‘17 years of being hit in the head.’
Here is Guy’s story along with a case study detailing his symptoms. I’m not sharing this to bash the sport, simply pointing out an ugly byproduct that can come with a career in MMA.
Guy presented with:
- daily bouts of severe dizziness
- was not able to perform normal daily activities due to lack of balance
- difficulty tracking written word
- difficulty walking
- daily mental fatigue
- memory loss
- Profound reduction in his balance on a normal surface, even with his eyes open.
- Severe reduction in balance on a flat surface, with eyes closed.
- Profound reduction in balance on an unstable surface with eyes open.
- Profound reduction in balance on an unstable (foam) surface with eyes open.
The below video is an advertisement detailing some treatments Mezger took which fortunately appear to have lessened some of his symptoms. Despite the commercial nature of the below video the points made about having an exit strategy and the focus on brain health are worth highlighting for those involved in combat sports.
On a related note, former MMA fighter and boxer Michele “Diablita” Gutierrez recently shared the long term effects she has suffered from combat sports which can be found here.