Getting hit in the head is not good. How much head trauma is too much? As the executive director of the Sports Legacy Institute tells us, nobody really knows but the connection to CTE is clearly there –
What is known, however, is that trauma is cumulative and there is only so much mileage an athlete can be exposed to before the toll adds up. A recent study was published earlier this year in the International Journal of Basic Sciences and Applied Research shedding more light on this issue in the context of boxing.
The full study, titled Comparison of Neuropsycholgical Disorders of Professional and Amateur Boxers can be found here.
The study participants were 20 amateur boxers with at least two years of Iranian National Team membership experience, 20 amateur boxers with no national team membership experience and 40 non-athletes. The participants were put through a battery of neuropsychological tests.
The results, not surprisingly, were that “boxing develops more serious neuropsychological implications in people who compete professionally and in national level than those with no national team membership background”.
The measured neurospychological deficits included impairment of visual memory, intelligence quotient visual perception and fundamental visual abilities.
Studies like this confirm that all combat sport athletes must appreciate that the tolls of brain trauma are cumulative and care must be taken to minimize the volume of trauma exposure over the course of a career. The dangers inherent in the sport cannot be eliminated but athletes who engage in practices such as ‘hard sparring’ are playing Russian roulette increasing the odds of taking that immeasurable ‘one shot too many’.