MMA and CTE

20 Feb

The hot button topic in the research world with concussions is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative brain disease, twin (fraternal) sibling of dementia pugilistica first found by Dr. Bennett Omalu.  This brain disease is debated and some times discounted (as you will see tomorrow) for its links to repetitive brain trauma, i.e. multiple concussions.  It does however have a place in the discussion with combative sports like MMA.

Recently a former fighter named Gary Goodridge has said he believes to be suffering from its onset.  Steven Marrocco of MMAjunkie.com wrote a piece on Goodridge and the debate of CTE in the sport;

The damage, he noted, was not extensive enough that it had caused irreversible trauma. But had the fighters continued to compete, he believes they would have been candidates for CTE.

“What I’m saying is that mixed martial arts belongs to the high-risk group of CTE,” Omalu said. “I would consider mixed martial arts just like I would boxing.”

Risk to MMA fighters

That opinion is not shared by all experts familiar with the disease. Cantu believes that a fighter’s style is the most reliable determinant of whether he or she develops CTE later in life. In the case of boxers, he predicts a clear difference between brawlers and technicians who avoid punishment.

“Those people who wound up with CTE were those who mostly had the highest number of fights and mostly were the individuals who were the sluggers that took a punch or two to try to deliver their own punch,” he said. “Over the course of the fight, they would take quite a bit of trauma compared to … a Floyd Mayweather-type fighter.

It is obvious to this author that placing your head, ergo your brain, intentionally in front of trauma will only expose you to greater risk of permanent and life-altering brain issues.  Granted that if the wherewithal of the individual and resources available are there it can be handled.  One must not discount the inevitable risks associated with any collision/combat oriented activity.

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