Nevada Athletic Commission Takes Regulatory Lead With Fighter Brain Health

Update April 29, 2016 – Today the NSAC provided me with the following details about the policy –

            Protecting the health and safety of all contestants is the most important goal of the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC).  To effectuate that goal, across the last four years the NAC has been encouraging various fighters licensed by the NAC to participate in the Professional Fighter Brain Health Study being conducted by the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health at the Cleveland Clinic.  The researchers conducting that study have recommended, and the NAC has adopted as its policy, the development of a database containing neurological function assessment results on all fighters licensed in Nevada.  The information in that database will be gathered through implementation of a test called a C-3 Test, which makes various neurological assessments.

            In addition to the specific requirements described in NAC 467.027 which sets forth the minimum requirements for determining an applicants’ physical and mental fitness to engage in unarmed combat in the State of Nevada, the applicant must also take a C-3 Test to be administered by a representative of the Cleveland Clinic and submit the results of that test to the NAC.  The results of the C-3 Test must be submitted along with an unarmed combatant’s application for license similar to the presently required physician’s report, ophthalmologic eye examination, MRI/MRA, CBC, HIV and hepatitis test results.  This new testing is required every time that a fighter submits an application for a license.

            The C-3 Test is a neurological function assessment designed to gather information about a fighter’s balance, reaction times, hand-eye coordination and dynamic visual acuity.  The total time to take the C-3 Test is between 15-30 minutes.  Each applicant must present themselves to the Cleveland Clinic for testing prior to submitting their application for a license.  This test will be implemented officially in the upcoming months.

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Athletic Commissions’ statutory reason for existing is the protection of the fighters they regulate.  To this end Athletic Commissions must stay current with issues involving brain trauma and evolve regulatory policies to keep pace with the science.  This is necessary not only to stave off potential litigation but more importantly to fulfill their mission statements of looking after the welfare of fighters.

Combative sports and permanent brain trauma are often a question of mileage.  This is a reality that at least one regulator, the Nevada State Athletic Commission, is acknowledging with evolving policies.

The NSAC has cooperated for years with the Cleveland Clinic’s Ruvo Center’s Professional Fighters Brain Health Study.  The study emphasizes early identification of neurocognitive decline and prediction of long-term neurological consequences for professional fighters.

This week the Nevada State Athletic Commission, influenced with information generated from the study, took steps in a positive direction announcing further diagnostic steps for fighters wishing to be licenced in the State.

In addition to current medical requirements, the NSAC will now require all fighters to undergo assessments using the Cleveland Clinic C3 application.  This tool, a mobile application used for assessing concussion symptoms, gives a baseline assessment of motor and cognitive function.  Repeat testing can then be done to measure functional decline following concussive or repeated sub-concussive trauma.  Regulators such as the NSAC can then use this data to help determine if a fighter is fit for ongoing licencing or if its time for the fighters to hang up the gloves.

The NSAC deserves credit for this proactive measure.  I have written the commission requesting a copy of the new policy.  I will update this article  with the wording of the policy once they respond.

 

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