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MMA fighters may risk brain injury


Brain damage is one of the most serious consequences that can develop from brain injuries. In fact, almost 100,000 people sustain brain injuries in the U.S. every year, including some residents of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. A brain injury can result either from work-related accidents or car crashes. An individual may even suffer a brain injury from sports activities and contact sports, including football, boxing and even mixed martial arts.

Sports-related brain injuries appeared in the headlines again after a study discovered that MMA fighters are at greater risk of brain injury than boxers. The research, which was published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, examined MMA matches that occurred from 2006 to 2012. The researchers found that 108 MMA fights ended in knockouts while 179 matches ended in technical knockouts. Researchers were alarmed by the technical knockouts because those fights ended after the fighter received an estimated additional three blows to the head before the match was stopped. However, UFC officials have argued that the MMA fights, including kickboxing, wrestling and judo, are safer than boxing.

Preliminary results from research conducted by the Cleveland Clinic seem to indicate otherwise. The study found that athletes exposed to head trauma are more likely to have lower scores on cognitive testing. The findings were based upon a formula that includes the athlete's years of fighting, as well as the number of matches and fights per year.

A brain injury may cause life-altering changes for an individual. Damage to the brain requires medical attention and long-term care, which can be emotionally and financially challenging for victims and their families. When considering this possibility, risking the life of an athlete for short-term success may not be worthwhile. Also, failing to protect or warn an individual about the risk of brain injury may possibly lead to legal consequences in the long run.

Source: CBS Sports, "Study reveals MMA fighters at higher risk of brain injury than boxers," Evan Hilbert, March 28, 2014

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