December 15, 2015
Working to Make Boxing, MMA Safer
The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is working to lower the risk of head injuries to boxers and mixed martial arts fighters.
Dr. Charles Bernick has been studying 600 active and retired fighters to assess long-term effects of blows to the head. The doctor presented a portion of his findings to the Nevada Athletic Commission in late November with suggestions on better regulating boxing and MMA matches to lower the risk of brain injuries.
Among the recommendations, Dr. Bernick proposes the introduction of a Fight Exposure Score, which uses an athlete’s age and history to assess the risk of head injury. He also proposes that trainers receive mandatory education on the effects of concussions and that sanctioning bodies collect more information on the fighters’ balance and cognitive processing for future review.
Dr. Bernick told ESPN that he has only “scratched the surface” in his work and additional research would allow more substantive conclusions.
“What we’re presenting is really just practical tools,” Bernick said. “Something like education for the cornermen, it’s hard to argue against that.”