The Real Damage of KO’s

Image: en.wikipedia.org

“Never leave it in the hands of the judges.” This is the unofficial motto of the UFC.

To that end fighters are encouraged to submit or knock out their opponents every chance they get. But while submissions give a fighter a chance to surrender KO’s don’t.

And the consequences can be far-reaching.

An American Association of Neurological Surgeons report, in 2014, founds that the force generated by a professional boxer’s punch is equal to that of a 9 kg bowling ball travelling at 32km/hr.

When it impacts with a defenders head the sudden movement shocks the brain – the rapid acceleration and deceleration of the skull squashes the brain within its cavity, causing trauma to the soft tissue.

Depending upon the severity of the impact the brain may bounce around, striking the inside of the skull several times before coming to rest.

The brain tissues then goes into overdrive sending out a series of neurotransmissions demanding blood to repair the damage.

According to Anthony Alessi, a neurologist and boxing physician, when the blood supply to the brain is unequal to the amount necessary to repair the damage the fighter will lose consciousness. It’s the body’s way of protecting itself: shut down and heal.

But knockouts aren’t always one-punch fight-finishers.

In an article published in Popular Mechanics Alessi spoke about the cumulative effects leading to KO’s. This is when blood supply is meeting regenerative demands, but only just.

The first indication a fighter may be nearing unconsciousness is their feet.

“They become flat-footed, which is the inability to adjust. Boxers can’t move forwards or backwards quickly.

“As you watch their feet, you realise that the same lack of coordination is going on in their upper extremities, in their hands. And eventually they are unable to defend themselves,” said Alessi.

Image: en.wikipedia.org

Image: en.wikipedia.org

Studies have found that around 90 per cent of professional boxers will suffer some form of head trauma throughout their career. Other research has suggested that between 15 – 40 per cent of boxers will, at some point, show signs of chronic brain injury.

Between 1960 and 2011 there have been approximately 488 deaths from boxing related injuries. 66 per cent of these are related to head and neck trauma.

In 2014 three professional boxers died from knockout punches.

Earlier this year Braydon Smith, a professional boxer in Australia, collapsed following his welterweight bout in Toowoomba, Queensland. He showed severe swelling on the brain from injuries sustained through the fight.

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