LETHBRIDGE – Mixed Martial Arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. People all over love it for the excitement many matches provide, but while exciting it can have negative effects on the fighters’ health.
A recent University of Toronto study states an MMA fighter suffers a traumatic brain injury in almost a third of professional bouts. Dr. Rob Sutherland is an expert on Behavioral Neuroscience, and he believes MMA has a far higher rate for traumatic brain injuries than any other sports.
“With repetitive concussions of the type that were documented in the study there will be a permanent brain injury.”
While the University of Toronto study didn’t directly observe the brain, Sutherland believes Mixed Martial Arts competitors are putting themselves in a vulnerable position.
“There’s a very high risk, that long term permanent change in the brain resembles Alzheimer’s dementia.”
But Lee Mein of Lethbridge’s Rumble in the Cage, says reputable promotions keep fighters best interests in mind.
“If I have a guy that was concussed in a fight, even if he wasn’t knocked out but I know his bell was rung pretty good, I make him take 90 days off.”
UFC welterweight Jordan Mein has been competing in MMA since he was a teenager and has recently felt the effects of concussions.
“Seeing it in myself and going through concussions and feeling the effects of concussions, I take it very seriously and I don’t recommend kids taking head trauma at all.”
Sports don’t often change the rules they were built on, but when it comes to protecting the brain, they have changed in the past. After being hit with a nearly $800-million lawsuit from former players who may suffer from dementia and other brain disorders, the NFL brought in new rules governing head contact.
Rules in other sports have changed due to a higher focus on player safety, specifically dealing with brain trauma. 24-year-old Jordan Mein understands the risks involved in competing, but doesn’t see rules changing at the professional level.
“I don’t really see it changing, but I’m fully aware of how dangerous it is and that’s why I think we should be getting paid more.”