Adding to this site’s database of combat sports safety studies, a recent paper was published in the journal of The Physician and Sports Medicine reviewing studies documenting concussions and traumatic brain injuries in mixed martial arts.
In the paper, titled Examining the occurrence and outcomes of concussion and mTBI in mixed martial arts athletes: A systematic review, the authors noted that there is a lack of awareness as to the risks of brain injury by many participants in MMA, that the traumatic brain injury rate is higher than in other sports and that more research continues to be needed to document the long term health risks for participants in the sport.
When addressing lack of awareness of injury risks by some participants the authors noted that “many individuals participate in the sport with little understanding of the potential short and long term consequences of injuries sustained while participating” with lack of brain injury knowledge playing a central role.
The full abstract reads as follows and the full study can found here:
Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a sport growing in popularity around the world. However, many individuals participate in the sport with little understanding of the potential short- and long-term consequences of injuries sustained while participating. Specifically, individuals are placed at a high risk of minor traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and concussive episodes as a result of head injuries incurred during training and competition. The current review aimed to examine the literature surrounding the occurrence and outcomes of mTBI in MMA athletes to gain a better understanding of these consequences. Twenty-five studies were identified within the current review, of which 14 examined occurrence of mTBI within the sport setting, nine identified outcomes of injury and one examined both. Overall, studies found that MMA athletes experienced mTBI and concussion to a greater extent than athletes in other sports. Deficits in memory, reaction time and processing speed were identified following occurrence of mTBI, however, several gaps in outcome measurement were identified within the current literature, including a lack of focus on speech and language outcomes. Future research should examine a wider variety of outcomes to provide a clearer understanding of the consequences of participating in the sport.