Combatives Doctors Cautioned to Lookout for Vertebral Artery Dissection Following Complications From Chokeholds

Adding to this site’s combat sports safety study archives a recent article was published warning doctors overseeing combative sports training to be aware of the risk of spontaneous vertebral artery dissection following a chokehold submission.

In the recent article, titled Vertebral Artery Dissection in Active-Duty Soldier Due to Mixed Martial Arts Choke Hold, the authors highlight a case study of a soldier undergoing combatives training who “participated in a Jiu-Jitsu match the evening prior to his presentation and reported that he was placed in a choke hold within the last 12 seconds of the match. He denied losing consciousness during this hold.“.  After the hold was released he developed vertigo with severe nausea.  He additionally “developed a throbbing, leftsided headache radiating down the left side of his neck. While the vertigo resolved within an hour, he continued to experience bouts of nausea and emesis“.

Ultimately he was diagnosed with a spontaneous vertebral artery dissection (sVAD) which led to a cerebellar stroke.

The authors caution that physicians overseeing Army Combatives training (and by extension physicians overseeing combative sports with submission chokeholds) should be well versed in the the diagnosis, management and prognosis of this condition in the rare event it occurs.

The full case study can be found here.


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