Study – Headgear in Amateur Boxing Leads To Far Fewer Cuts but Substantially More Head Injuries

Adding to this site’s archived combat sports safety studies, a recent thesis was written delving into the incidence of lacerations and head injuries (brain injury) in amateur boxing bouts with and without headgear.

In the literature review, titled Comparison of incidence of selected injuries in amateur boxing with and without formerly mandatory head gear, the author reviewed data from 10 previous studies involving amateur boxers from 1955-2015.  The author reviewed the incidence of facial lacerations and head injuries in bouts with headgear and compared these rates to other bouts without headgear.

The data revealed that bouts with headgear resulted in dramatically fewer lacerations but substantially more head injuries.

The following results and conclusion were reached:

Result The number of head injuries has essentially been halved without headgear. Total lacerations reported with headgear was 111, and 1716 without headgear, making an increase of 1,445.95 %. Total head injuries reported with headgear was 169 and 73 without headgear. Number of head injuries has decreased by 56,28% per 1000 hours of boxing without headgear. Injuries per 1000 hours of boxing with headgear is 476,8, compared to 800,7 injuries per 1000 hours of boxing without headgear.

Conclusion The amount of head injuries is significantly reduced without headgear, but the incidence of cuts has increased considerably. The total number of injuries has increased without headgear

This study has provided details on injury incidence and risk factors obtained from the analysis of a comprehensive amateur boxing database from 1955 to 2015 of bouts all over the world. The rates are based on over 17000 bouts over a 60-year period. One thousand four hundred and five injuries were reported by coaches, physicians or boxers. This study emphasised the effect of headgear use in amateur boxing and discussed whether it should still be banned or reinstated in AIBA tournaments and bouts based on injury rates and pros and cons of the headgear itself. As traumatic head injury is of greater severity than facial lacerations, concluding remarks reinforce the argument for the discontinuing of headgear in amateur boxing. Further research should aim to confirm or contradict the results of this study, and document injury incidence and severity in amateur boxing after 2013, where data are scarce. In the future it is desirable to reduce the rate of lacerations, and both alterations in amateur’s style of boxing as well as new medical measures and protective gear can play important roles in this required reduction


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