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Research Give More Insight To Boxing Related Damage

Ever since science started catching up with sports, there has been an increase in research and evidence offering more insight to the physiology and side-effects of various sports.

About a year ago I wrote an article in response to a research study done at a university, talking about boxing and why kids as well as young adults should be discouraged to partake in any kind of sparring, may it be light or heavy. My argument was a little bit convoluted but non-the-less effective: any sport that can get kids to exercise and sharpen up their physical selves as well as boost their confidence is worth it. After all, all sports come with their own activity related injuries.

I have recently discovered two other interesting articles that I wanted to share with you.

The first one was posted on Washington Post, talking about the physiological response of getting repeatedly hit in the head.

“Levels of a particular marker for neuronal damage — neurofilament light (NFL) — were four times higher in boxers within 10 days after a fight, compared to a control group of 10 healthy men who weren’t athletes,” was stated in the article.

Of course while most don’t know the exact science behind the damage that can result from boxing, all understand that it is the kind of sport that comes with a higher degree of possible injury when compared to many others.

Nonetheless the article continued to suggest that this information could potentially assist us in pinpointing and predicting when and if a boxer should stop fighting and take some time off based on the levers of the neurological damage (NFL levels) at the time of their examination:

“Our results suggest CSF analysis could be used for medical counseling of athletes after boxing or head injury,” said Dr. Hietala.

If truly the case, then this is an excellent opportunity to limit and even prevent tragedies that some of the fighters and their families would be on the path to. If the researchers are able to find a cumulative level of these proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid at which permanent brain injury generally occurs, then they could use that to calculate and set a threshold to which they would suggest fighters try to stay under.

The second article by the American Association Of Neurological Surgeons, also has some very illuminating information about boxing related death vs. knockouts.

“Fatalities, on the other hand, result in the loss of consciousness secondary to bilateral cerebral cortex dysfunction. Boxers who seem to be oblivious to the punishment they are taking and are performing “on automatic” tend to receive an abnormal amount of brain trauma,” suggested the research.

Essentially, the group of physicians in charge of this research came to the conclusion that boxing related fatalities occur due to an accumulation of punches rather than a couple of hard shots that send a boxer to the canvas. We all know that if as fighter is in survival mode, throwing punches and trying to block, but is taking punishment at the same time, the referee is unlikely to stop it at that point, not realizing that despite the fact that the defending boxer is still standing and swinging, its likely due to his automatic muscle memory response.

This study and their ideas coincide with the other article, suggesting that it is the accumulation of shots taken that increase the risk for a permanent and serious damage. Hopefully with this research, boxing as well as other sports will become safer and keep serious damage away from our champions.

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