Monthly Archives: March 2014
University of Toronto researchers have determined that mixed martial arts fighters suffer a traumatic brain injury in almost a third of their professional bouts, which is greater than the rate of such injuries in hockey, football or even boxing.
The researchers analyzed seven years of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) scorecards as well as watching videotape of bouts. They concluded that the most dangerous aspect of the fight are the repeated blows to the head, which are delivered after the fighter has or is about to lose consciousness.
“This draws attention to the fact that relevant questions need to be asked of a sport for which the objective at some level is to knock them out,” Michael Hutchison, a U of T kinesiology professor and lead author, told the media. “The [knocked out] person is rendered unable to defend themselves, and then they’re getting multiple strikes to their head. That’s probably not good for one’s health.”
The researchers detected an average of 6.4 knockouts per athlete for every 100 fights, or “athlete exposures.” When the multiple-strike TKOs were added, the total of suspected brain injuries climbed to 15.9 per athlete per 100 bouts, or one concussion-like injury in 32 percent of the matches. This compares to rates, found in other studies, of 4.9 concussions per 100 athlete exposures in boxing, 2.2 per 100 in hockey and 8.08 per 100 in football, according to the study.
Photo by Tim Hipps
By Betsy Simon, ISU Communications
It’s still OK to encourage youth to get involved in football and other contact sports where concussions occur, a group of panelists participating in a student-led discussion at Indiana State University determined. At the same time, the panelists at the Tuesday evening event concluded it is essential to teach players proper techniques in order to minimize the dangers of concussions.
Panelists were Mike Sanford, Indiana State’s head football coach; Kendall Walker, an Indiana State linebacker who suffered a severe concussion last season; Chris Barrett, Terre Haute North Vigo High School head football coach and parent of a player; and Dr. Thomas E. Klootwyk, an orthopedic surgeon for the Indianapolis Colts-Methodist Sports Medicine Team.
Sanford said the Indiana State athletics department has a concussion policy based on the most recent research that says players are not allowed back in the game until four days after they have stopped experiencing symptoms of a concussion. Players are also screened at a pre-season baseline testing to measure cognitive function pre-concussion.
“Bottom line, we have a policy and I completely trust our athletic trainers and doctors to inform me when a player is well enough to return to the field,” he said. “I’ve been coaching 37 years and there’s been an evolutionary process on how concussions are treated. Sports medicine has changed and developed. I want a healthy team on the field that is able to compete, but when these guys love the game, that’s where the decision comes. Sometimes, more than outside pressure, I think it’s more about players not wanting to admit problems they’re experience because of a concussion, so we need to work on getting them to report problems. It’s about the kids.”
The panel discussion evolved from a PBS documentary on concussions, something Walker experienced for the first last season when he sidelined for five weeks due to complications because of the injury.
“I was a little frightened after it happened,” Walker said. “I’ve been through a lot of hard hits but things cleared up. When I got the concussion though, it was the first time that problems didn’t clear up and I stayed foggy for awhile, and Coach Sanford was supportive of me through it, and he and the trainers listened to me and kept me off the field.”
Klootwyk said it is the job of coaches and trainers to stay up-to-date on the latest concussion research and “return players to the field as soon as they can safely.”
“I don’t have a problem saying, ‘Not today,’ to a player,” he said. “The problem is, unlike with a sprained ankle, where it’s easy to see a player limping, with a concussion sometimes the players don’t report their symptoms. Coaches and trainers need to watch more because better monitoring and assessing of players will help. We don’t know the long-term damage of concussions yet, but in the short-term we need to prevent catastrophic events and be better at pulling guys out of the game if there are problems.”
It will also be beneficial to teach players good techniques on the field from an early age, Sanford said.
“A critical thing is having proper equipment for youth players and teaching proper tackling techniques,” he said. “I think a lot of people who are in coaching care about the kids and their ethics are generally in the right place when it comes to concussions in sports.”
A study by the Concussion Clinic at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota has revealed that a child who sustains a concussion during the school year has a longer recovery time than one who suffers the same injury over the summer.
“We were surprised at the magnitude of the differences,” Robert Doss, PsyD, co-director of the Pediatric Concussion Program and one of the study’s researchers, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “We weren’t surprised that it was in that direction; just simply that the magnitude was what it was.”
The article quoted another study, “Returning to Learning Following a Concussion,” which was published in October in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The study “explains the difficulties children experience in a school setting after suffering a concussion. Post-concussive symptoms often can linger or increase in severity without proper adjustments to a child’s environment or academic routine. Research suggests that academic demands and school environment may be a barrier to recovery.
“Because each concussion and child is different, the AAP study recommends creating a multidisciplinary team to facilitate a student’s recovery and help him or her return to normal activities. Those four teams are:
- “Family (student, parents, guardians, grandparents, peers, teammates and family friends)
- Medical (emergency department, primary care provider, concussion specialist, clinical psychologist, neuropsychologist, team and/or school physician)
- School academic (teacher, school counselor, school psychologist, social worker, school nurse, school administrator, school physician)
- School physical activity (school nurse, athletic trainer, coach, physical education teacher, playground supervisor, school physician).”
Doss went on to stress the importance of the “individual child” to the paper. “It seems like our practitioners are noticing more responsiveness by the schools to put forth accommodations for these kids,” he said. “Some schools are more accommodating than others. Some seem to have a grasp of concussions.
“Overall, I think our perception is that schools are more receptive and thinking about it more actively. They’re instituting programs on their own, so they’re prepared for what comes next.”