Combative sports, like all contact sports, have inherent dangers and it is important for stakeholders to work together to create best practices to minimize these.
To this end an informative article was recently published in Neurologic Clinics.
The article, titled, Neurologic Health in Combat Sports, takes an in depth look at the current state of medical evidence (or lack thereof) addressing various key issues in combative sports such as safety of headgear, rapid extreme weight cutting dangers and performance enhancing drug use. Among the articles observations are
- Medical suspensions for brain injury “vary greatly in criteria, uniformity and regulation by the various athletic commissions”
- There is no evidence based data suggesting how frequently combat sports athletes should undergo brain imaging however serial monitoring of some type is warranted
- baseline neurpsychological testing of fighters is warranted to assist physicians in making return to fight decisions
- The long term impairments many combat sports athletes suffer from are from various sources including
- The “Fight Exposure Index” is a useful, but far from complete tool, in assessing fighters at higher risk for impairment which looks at age, number of professional fights, average fights per year, and number of KO’s.
- It remains unclear to what degree headgear are effective tools in concussion risk reduction
- There are a host of well documented safety concerns between rapid extreme weight cuts and competing in combative sports
- Mandatory drug testing in combative sports is sensible given the known risks of PED use for both users and potentially for opponents not consenting to compete against cheating athletes
The author, Tad Seifert, is a practicing neurologist with significant involvement in combat and contact sports safety management. His experience and credentials include
- Director, Sports Neurology Program,
- Norton Healthcare Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant,
- NFL Team Neurologist,
- Western Kentucky University, Department of Athletics Chairman,
- Kentucky Boxing & Wrestling Commission,
- Medical Advisory Panel Association of Boxing Commissions, Medical Committee Member Head,
- NCAA Headache Task Force
Dr. Seifert was kind enough to allow the article to be republished in full and can be accessed here for anyone itnterested. Seifert concludes with the following call for uniformity and improvement in standards when managing traumatic brain injury in combative sports: