In February, key individuals from prominent mixed martial arts (MMA) organizations met with Senators John McCain and Harry Reid in support of a head trauma study being conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
The Capitol Hill press conference essentially announced the contributions and intentions toward the study. One, that the short history of MMA has resulted in minimal knowledge about its long-term ramifications on the brain. Two, that 400 fighters from multiple MMA organizations are taking part in the research, which ultimately will yield a better understanding of head trauma related not just to sports but specifically to MMA. And three, that UFC, Viacom, Golden Boy, and Top Rank Boxing are contributing $600,000 toward the study, with more expected over time; this adds to the $2 million from the Cleveland Clinic.
Regarding the study, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta told the press: “Unfortunately, head injuries and concussions are injuries that we just don’t know enough about. We just don’t know enough about what blows cause them and are certain people more predisposed than other people? We need to find that out.”
Head injuries, including closed and open traumatic brain injuries, are associated with events as seemingly minor as a slip and fall to concussions resulting from sports. However, as this article from Tufts University points out, athletic-related head injuries may lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy and greater chances of developing epilepsy and Alzheimer’s in the future.
Head injuries encompass a great range of conditions. Aside from a TBI, this may be a concussion, coma, loss of consciousness, or a brain hemorrhage. Closed injuries tend to be the least diagnosed; even with potential swelling and pressure under the skull, the lack of exterior signs makes them difficult to detect.
However, if a slip or fall, sports-related injury, concussion, or car accident occurs, it’s recommended to look for the following signs, as they may indicate potential closed head trauma: memory loss, forgetfulness, nausea, mood and emotion changes, headaches, confusion, or restlessness.