Mixed Martial Arts and Brain Damage

What’s the most dangerous sport? Boxing? Wrestling? Nope.

Apparently, it might just be mixed martial arts (MMA) – according to the American Journal of Sports Medicine. MMA is a full contact combat sport, allowing all forms of attacks, including striking and grappling, to which is a victor is decided upon after elapsed time, a submission, or a knockout.

Apparently, up to 1 in 3 matches in MMA ends in a knockout, which causes severe trauma to the brain in those who are unfortunate enough to experience such a thing.

Interestingly, data shows that those who participated in MMA receive even higher levels of brain damage than boxers, football and hockey players, or just about any other forms of martial arts.

In a study conducted in the University of Toronto, the results of mixed martial arts fights from 2006 to 2012 were observed. Shockingly, in most cases, even after a fighter was knocked out, he still sustained anywhere between 1 or 4 more punches before the match would be awarded to the victor.

The researchers also discovered that from over the 800 fights that they examined, 33% of all the matches either ended up in knockouts or technical knockouts (18.5 hits to the head under 30 seconds).

This leads to their understanding of just how mixed martial arts can be – especially for young adults, who were reportedly increasing in number.

This brings into question whether or not younger participants should be banned from participating in such harsh sports.

At the moment, MMA consists of every sort of fighting style you can think of, in which the fighters wear fingerless gloves, with absolutely no protection to the head.

You can imagine the amount of brain injuries possibly sustained after years of fighting. To this, the researchers are currently looking into strategies and methods to possibly reduce the brain trauma associated with MMA.

At the moment, there isn’t really much that can be improved upon. However, the UCF disputed the study, saying that it had almost 400 fighters enrolled in the Cleveland Clinic to keep a close eye on their health conditions, whilst allowing their fighters excellent health care services when they need them.

The researchers claim that this isn’t really enough, though, and that the brain health of many of their fighters can never be guaranteed. One mistake might make you a vegetable for life.

Further investigation is still being conducted regarding mixed martial arts at the moment, and whether anything can be done to make the competitive sport relatively safer.

However, at the moment, the best course of action for anyone not willing to sustain brain damage would be to simply not play the game.

Will MMA get safer in the future? Only time will tell.


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