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Exposure to injury in mixed-martial-arts is associated with evidence of concussion injury
  1. Christopher Neville,
  2. Paul Johnson,
  3. Joshua Baracks,
  4. Brian Rieger
  1. Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, USA

Abstract

Objective The purpose of this study was to determine if exposure to injury during mixed-martial-arts (MMA) fights is associated with concussion injury. It was hypothesised that number of hits-to-the-head (HTH) would be associated with concussion assessment findings.

Design Case-series

Setting Amateur MMA fighters agreed to complete the testing at training facilities and fight venues.

Participants A convenience sample 33 MMA fighters completed pre and post-fight assessments (32 males, 1 female)

Interventions (or Assessment of Risk Factors) The independent variable was group assignment. The low-exposure (LE) group (n=17) had a mean of 5.8±5.9 HTH while the high-exposure (HE) group (n=16) had a mean of 34.0±9.8 HTH.

Outcome measures The dependent variables were compared using an ANOVA model. They included: average speed to complete the Tails B cognitive test, balance measured with an inertial measurement unit, S100B protein concentration in blood serum, and self-reported symptoms.

Main results The change in S100B concentration from pre to post-fight was significantly greater (p=0.01) in the HE group (0.22±0.14 ug/L) compared to the LE group (0.10±0.11 ug/L). Dual-task balance cost was significantly greater (p=0.02) in the HE group (0.04±0.05 m/s2/Hz) compared to the LE (0.01±0.01 m/s2/Hz) group. No difference in Trails B speed or self-reported symptoms was observed.

Conclusions The increase in S100B concentration in the peripheral blood and changes in balance performance suggest concussion injuries are common during MMA fights but injuries are associated with exposure to head impacts. Cognitive tests and symptom report may not be as sensitive to injury.

Competing interests Dr. Neville: Ongoing research sponsorship and equity interest in Motion Intelligence Inc. who provided the hardware for some of the concussion screening used in this study.

Dr. Johnson: None.

Mr. Baracks: None.

Dr. Rieger: Ongoing research sponsorship and equity interest in Motion Intelligence Inc. who provided the hardware for some of the concussion screening used in this study.

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