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Low risk of concussions in top-level karate competition
  1. Rafael Arriaza1,
  2. Dusana Cierna2,
  3. Patricia Regueiro3,
  4. David Inman4,
  5. Franco Roman5,
  6. Benjamin Abarca6,
  7. Mercé Barrientos3,
  8. Miguel A Saavedra3
  1. 1Instituto Médico Arriaza y Asociados, Cátedra HM de Traumatologia del Deporte, Universidade da Coruña, A Coruña, Spain
  2. 2Physical Education and Sports School, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovak Republic
  3. 3Physical Education and Sports School, Universidade da Coruña, A Coruña, Spain
  4. 4Oldfield Osteopathic Clinic, Bath, UK
  5. 5Commission Médicale Nationale de la Fédération Française de Karaté et Disciplines Associées, Paris, France
  6. 6Comisión Médica Nacional, Federación Chilena de Karate, Puerto Montt, Chile
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rafael Arriaza, Instituto Médico Arriaza y Asociados, Cátedra HM de Traumatologia del Deporte, Universidade da Coruña, Calle Enrique Mariñas, 32, A Coruña 15008, Spain; rafael{at}


Background Although it is well known that injuries occur in combat sports, the true incidence of concussions is not clearly defined in the literature for karate competition.

Aim To determine the incidence of concussions in top-level (World Karate Federation World Championships) karate competition.

Methods Injuries that took place in 4 consecutive World Karate Championships (from 2008 to 2014) were prospectively registered. A total of 4625 fights (2916 in the male category and 1709 in the female category) were scrutinised, and concussions were identified and analysed separately for frequency (rate per fight) and injury risk.

Results A total of 4 concussions were diagnosed by the attending physicians after carrying out athlete examinations. Globally, there was 1 concussion in every 1156 fights, or 0.43/1000 athlete-exposures (AE). In male athletes, the rate of concussion was 1/5832 min of fighting, and in female athletes, it was 1/6836 min. OR for concussion in women is 0.57 (95% CI 0.06 to 5.47; z=0.489; p=0.6249) and risk ratio for concussions in men is RR 1.478 (95% CI 0.271 to 8.072), p=0.528, representing a higher risk of definite concussions in men than in women, but not statistically significant. There is not a significantly higher risk of concussions in team competition (no weight limit) when compared with individual competition (held with strict weight limits for each category).

Conclusion The risk of concussions in top-level karate competition is low, with a tendency for an increased risk for men and for competition without weight limits, but not statistically significant with respect to women or individual competition.

  • Contact sports
  • Injuries
  • Concussion

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  • Twitter Follow David Inman @Davetheosteo and Miguel Saavedra @saavem

  • Contributors RA, FR, DC and DI conceived the project of the study and collected the data in situ. BA, MB, PR and MAS performed the bibliography research, analysed the results, helped with the statistical workup and critically read the manuscript, improving it. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval University of A Coruña Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.