More On Concussions in MMA
Last week I published my contentious, ‘Does MMA Make You Stupid‘ article. Since then there have been a few more developments on the concussion controversy, so I figured it was worth sharing the updates so as to keep you in the loop.
UPDATE 1: STEPHAN KESTING ON THE NHB NEWS PODCAST
Over the weekend I was contacted by Eddie Goldman, the Godfather of MMA, from the NHB News website and podcast.
Eddie is very knowledgeable about MMA, but has also followed the same controversy in boxing and football. We ended up having a one hour, eighteen minute conversation about the state of the sport, the implications of concussions, research from football, and the potential ways we might all see MMA evolve in the coming years.
It was no holds barred discussion. As I’ve pointed out on Facebook, Sherdog, and a few other places, I don’t want to get this sport banned. I believe that people have the right to make decisions for themselves, even if they’re dangerous decisions. But they should be INFORMED decisions!
In case you’re interested, you can either listen to the interview, or download the mp3, on the following page:
UPDATE 2: WHAT TO DO IF YOU OR A TRAINING PARTNER GETS A CONCUSSION
Also on the weekend I was contacted by an Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine resident physician who practices BJJ in his limited spare time.
He pointed me towards some interesting links that represent the current clinical guidelines used by doctors to manage concussions. I have added them to the ‘Does MMA Make You Stupid’ article towards the bottom, but I’ll also send you the links in this email directly. You should probably print these out and have around the gym…
- The Sport Concussion Assessment Tool, used to determine how severe a given concussion actually is
- The 2013 American Academy of Neurology Guidelines for concussion patients and their families
- The updated 2013 American Academy of Neurology Guidelines for clinicians
- A Return to Play protocol; guidelines for getting back into contact sport following a concussion (starts on page 188)
UPDATE 3: AREN’T CHOKES JUST AS DANGEROUS AS HEADSHOTS?
Someone asked me recently if there is any evidence of grappling/bjj leading in the same direction as MMA and boxing? They were worried about oxygen loss during chokes, and the long-term effects of that on the brain.
I am open to being corrected on this, but I am NOT aware of any research linking training in a grappling art that includes chokes with brain damage or reduction in brain function.
I am NOT a doctor, and NOT a neurologist, but I believe that the danger from oxygen deprivation during a choke is much, much, much less than the danger from repeated concussions and sub-concussive impacts.
Brain damage occurs after 4 to 5 minutes of oxygen deprivation. In 99.9999% of chokes you’re not going to anywhere close to that amount of time.
There are some older studies from the Kodokan, the hub of Judo in Japan, which found choking (or ‘Shime Waza’ as they call it) to be safe.
Now of course research by the Kodokan into Judo issues could be biased, but the findings correspond with my own personal experience. Older Judo players typically have screwed up backs, shoulders, hips, knees, elbows, wrists and ankles, but it’s not too common to see them slurring their words like a typical ‘punch drunk’ boxer.
So of course future research could find negative side effects from short term chokes, but until that time I’ll take my chances with grappling and BJJ.