In my ongoing efforts to document scientific studies addressing safety issues in combat sports, a useful article was published this month in the Korean Journal of Neurotrauma addressing sport related head injuries and return to sport protocols.
While the recent article titled A Review of Sport-Related Head Injuries, does not present any new data or findings, it is a well authored concise summary on the topic.
Of particular value for combat sports athletes, trainers and regulators are the comments on return to sport following concussion.
Given that CTE is linked to repeated concussive/sub-concussive blows, that concussion victims are 2-5.8 times more likely to experience a subsequent concussion and lastly that consequences from multiple concussions can be cumulative combat sports stakeholders should be well aware of if or when it is safe to return to sport following a concussive injury. The article provides the following sensible advice:
Athletes are not allowed to return to sports unless their symptoms have completely remitted. After full symptom resolution, they should return to sporting activities in a stepwise manner according to graduated return to play protocol (Table 2).12) Each step of the protocol requires 24 hours, and the process stops if there are any symptoms. Therefore, at least 1 week is required to return to sporting activities. In the final stage, the athlete undergoes a medical check-up before they are cleared to return to their sport. If any symptoms are observed, the athlete is ordered to rest and return to the previous stage of the protocol.