Any hit to the head causes brain damage

Discussion in 'Standup Technique' started by mcdowels, May 28, 2018.

  1. Sinister

    Sinister Doctor of Doom Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    Well yes, there's a definitive lack of proper instruction on how to avoid getting hit flush, and probably most definitively on how to RECEIVE force with minimal damage.

    That's what you get for thinking.

    Strong neck muscles aren't as important as posture correctness. The neck is not a thing designed to be doing things other than what it does. So lifting weights with your neck is pretty silly. Mike Tyson swore by rolling his neck around in bridge position, but Mike Tyson was also born with a very thick neck and huge traps. Mike Tyson also got knocked out in almost every fight he lost. There's also something to be said for what happens to your hormones as you age. Some preliminary data has suggested that TRT helps alleviate the effects of aging on the brain, which makes a lot of sense.
     
  2. Sinister

    Sinister Doctor of Doom Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    Well, to be frank you are kind of talking out of both sides of your mouth here. By that I mean on one hand you're saying not to tiptoe around things and claiming to know plenty about the subject of brain damage...and on the other hand you're saying you've not ever actually directly experienced it yourself. That's what Sano was saying, albeit candidly. When you see someone you know succumb to dementia, it's not pretty at all. It's a very miserable way to go. It's one thing to read about NFL athletes who commit suicide, or murder people like Aaron Hernandez...or say Edwin Valero, it's another thing to have shaken Valero's hand and found him a fairly likeable person before he killed his wife and then himself...which likely had a lot to do with him getting punched in the head while having a hole in his skull.

    I'm not saying fighters need to be extremely worried about brain damage, however, fighters also have a long, LONG History of betraying themselves. Had Freddy Roach listened to Eddie Futch, his Parkinson's may not have manifested until much later in his life. When he fired Futch it was his own Father who stood in his corner while he got hammered. Right now the official rules of USA Boxing state that trainers are supposed to present their passbooks if they take a fighter under 18 to spar at another Gym, you know why? Because here in Las Vegas a guy was taking his Son to multiple gyms more than once a day to spar. Kid was 16, doing up to 20 rounds a day. One day he complained of a headache, laid down and fell asleep, never woke up again. Just the year before last the same thing happened to a young Pro in one of the gyms here. Sparred, laid down after, never woke back up.

    This is nothing to be cavalier about.
     
  3. listrahtes

    listrahtes Brown Belt

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    Wow o_O as a father myself I just cant get into the mindset of such a father. How can you even do that to your son. Unbelievable.
     
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  4. Woldog

    Woldog Boxer

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    I've never directly experienced concussions or knockouts (I've been hit in the head numerous times boxing and playing rugby) but I have had severe headaches my entire life (so maybe I've been concussed and didn't notice?) My Auntie is currently dying of dementia caused by a brain tumor so I have and am experiencing what it's like to see someone you've known your entire life not recognize you anymore.

    I'm a firm believer in seizing the day and not worrying about tomorrow, It doesn't mean I'm going to run around taking head knocks for the fun of it, however my quote about tiptoeing through life is directly aimed at the TS. He's on a fight forum saying he doesn't want to spar or train now because his "Very very high IQ" may suffer from it. I'm quite intelligent myself however I'm not going to avoid the sports I love because I may cop a few headblows and possibly damage my brain. These things can happen at any point in life whether you avoid them or not.

    At no point am I saying "Go out and get punched in the head as much as possible because any day could be your last."
     
  5. Sinister

    Sinister Doctor of Doom Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    Oh I'm not paying any mind to the TS. Don't get that twisted. He's probably full of beans as it is. I didn't avoid boxing, either, but I also used to talk tough about tentative brain damage until I saw it first-hand...and saw guys die preventable deaths because they were surrounded by people who depended on them getting punched in the head.
     
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  6. Kframe

    Kframe Brown Belt

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    But that is exactly what it sounds like. People in martial arts need to give a shit about their health more in the long run. . I also blame coaches who fail to give the proper amount of teaching time and effort to proper defense.
     
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  7. listrahtes

    listrahtes Brown Belt

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    Have to disagree. He is just saying in other words dont make fear your primal motivator. Do things and assess them with real experience you made. That doesnt mean to shut down any thought process about possible dangers but if you only think about what can happen its even more limiting your objective thought process. And honestly it makes for quite a shitty life.
     
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  8. Sano

    Sano Black Belt

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    Yep that was exactly what I was talking about.

    Besides the obvious and very sad cases like you pointed out, there's a lot of "hidden" consequences. People living with chronic headaches, vertigo, nausea, hyperhydrosis, anxiety, depression and other autonomic dysfunctions as a result of taking head trauma. Fortunately most people recover well from a concussion or two, but it's definitely not uncommon in any contact sport to see people having issues. I'm sure once in a while the reason why someone stops coming to class is because they are dealing with some issues, and it's not something they wanna talk about because it's looked as as being weak in a lot of circles.

    I don't think it's a coincidence that a lot of ex-boxers and NFL players turn to alcohol and drugs, and gets diagnosed with depression and anxiety. This is not to say that other psychosocial factors do not contribute in a major way, but there is some evidence to suggest that repeated concussions increases substance abuse, and A LOT of evidence that shows a marked increase in depression, anxiety, and a cognitive decline compared to the gen. pop. This is just a small one on NFL players: Link, but there is much more. These are bigger reviews: Link2, Link3. Not to mention that PCS and PTSD are closely linked and the hyperarousel dimensions of PTSD is basicly the same. A lot of it has to do with neurodegeneration and damage of the Amygdala as I mentioned in my first post. Endocrine issues (hormonal) as a result of the Hypothalamus, Pituitary and Adrenal glands dysfunction after a concussion is also pretty well established. This is just a small study, but there are reviews showing the same: Link4

    I wont keep harping on, although I could. I am also not trying to scare anyone, because the truth is that most people, as I said around 90%, have very little to no issues after a concussion, and the ones that do usually recover as well. However, the above is to illustrate some of the underlying mechanisms that might result in someone not recovering, and being diagnosed with PCS (postconcussion syndrome).

    A definite factor is repeated concussions. That's not a good thing, especially if the brain doesn't get time to recover inbetween. Same with too many subconcussive hits without rest.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2018
  9. Sano

    Sano Black Belt

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    Alright, here comes part 3.

    Prevention and risk factors:
    The first thing to reiterate is that the MOST EFFECTIVE way of reducing the chance of a concussion, and overall brain damage, is reducing the frequency, volume and power of head shots. It's as simply as that. You can do everything else right, but if you are regularly taking hard shots they wont matter. Genetics plays a big factor, but there is no way to know in advance if you are more susceptible or not. Not at this time anyway, although various genetic biomarkers are being researched. An interesting recent study on rugby players recorded thousands of collisions and concluded that reducing speed, acceleration of hit and head to head damage was the best way to mitigate the risk of concussions. So with that out of the way, do less hard sparring, do more drills, do more shadowsparring, work on defense more. That's the bottom line.

    In regards to the previously touched on subject of how a strong neck might help prevent concussions, Chris Beardsley wrote a pretty interesting article on that subject. It seems that there is no clear correlation between the two, although a very weak neck might make you more prone. Theoretically, stronger muscles could partly help absorb some of the eccentric forces and reduce the acceleration of the skull, but it doesn't seem to be that clear cut in reality. The article concludes "Taking these points together, we might consider whether we want to build some movement practice as well as neck strengthening into injury prevention programs, for increasing energy absorption in impacts that produce head accelerations. Movement practice might include tensing of the neck muscles, clenching mouthgards, or practicing a good posture for force transmission to the rest of the body."

    @Sinister is the guy to talk to for this because he knows about body position and being in the right place to take the least amount of damage (least amount of force and acceleration). He is right on the money, and knows a lot more than anyone else on this forum about defensive positioning.

    When talking about risk factors, it is not well understood. Previous concussions without adequate rest is the most well established one. Being female is another. In regards to developing PCS, it seems that co-morbidities like existing anxiety and depression can be a risk factor. One could hypothesise that it might have something to do with an already dysfunctional hormonal and autonomic system, and that various psychiatric and stress ailments also releases a lot of inflammation in the brain, which coincides with the inflammation after a concussion. Hard to tell. Drugs and alcohol is another chicken-or-egg thing. It definitely doesn't help, although there is nothing wrong with alcohol in smaller amounts.

    When considering prevention, it's always safe to say that a healthy, well-balanced, hydrated person in good shape will be less susceptible to hits. In a lot of ways, the road back to recovery is simular to the prevention. A lot of it is not well established though, and guesswork for the large part. Being in good cardiovascular shape could theoretically help mitigate some of the damage, as a lot of the issue with concussions and PCS is reduced cerebral blood flow (blood to the brain). You see it as well in fight sports, that the well conditioned fighter recovers more quickly. Being at a good place mentally, as strange as it might sound to some, is another thing that theoretically could help both recovery and prevention.

    I am definitely not an expert on nutrition, but when it comes to certain dietary or supplemental benefits there is some evidence to suggest it could have both a preventive and recovery effect. With a few caveats though, but I will cover that in the recovery section.

    Recovery:
    There is a difference between "regular" concussion recovery and PCS recovery (I might go back to part one and clarify the definition of PCS). In regard to a concussion, the basics are the basics. Get adequate rest initially, keep the body moving gently, wait for the symptoms to subside and do not go back to contact untill you complete certain steps without any symptoms. Better to wait longer initially, than keep making the problem worse. It is very important to have a proper "return to play" protocol in place, and most contact sports have had, and improved on, those for some time. Unfortunately there is none specificly for striking sports, but they all follow the same principles. Here is an example taken from Roller Derby, which is well explained and simple:

    [​IMG]

    Various dietary and supplemental choices are thought to be helpful in regards to both preventing and recovering from a concussion. A table below lists some:
    [​IMG]

    Fish oil seems to be the most well researched one, and a long with curcumin, has shown some promise in studies on rodents and some smaller human trials. To this day though, there has been no high quality large human trials which has shown these benefits. It is still at a very initial stage and there is a lack of solid evidence. That being said, as there are various other health benefits to having a diet rich in Vitamin D, DHA, magnesium and various other anti-inflammatory and oxidative food sources there would be no reason not to. Also, something like fish oil improves blood circulation by vasodilation, and consists of fatty acid which could theoretically improve cerebral blood flow and help battle the degeneration of white matter (fat) in the brain after a concussion (as discussed in part 1). Also something like curcumin has anti-inflammatory effects, which could theoretically help combat the over-inflammatory state of the brain during the initial stage of the concussion (also discussed in part 1). With that said, there is no magic bullet. New reasearch is being made though, including on Resveratrol and Creatine.

    CBD oil has shown some promise and does seem to have some neuroregenerative effects, but again, the evidence is lacking. Someone like @Badger67 is the man to talk to about that.

    As far as PCS is concerned, treatment is a multidimensional approach accross various health care providers. The previous advice applies, but it might not be enough. Graded exercise protocols has shown some promise and should be part of clinical practice for those who can tolerate it. Cognitive therapy or neuropsychology can be a factor in helping the individual back as well. The results from our research project suggested that dysautonomia is a major factor in symptom expression, and that Body Awareness Therapy can effect the autonomic nervous system and lower parasympathetic activity. It can help reduce symptoms for SOME. Meditation, body relaxation, breathing techniques and de-stressing activities might also help alleviate the condition. Going to an optometrist and getting your binocular vision checked, especially if you are experiencing eye pain and headaches, can be a good idea. The binocular vision is often effected as a result of dealing with PCS. There has been some evidence to suggest that electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve can have a neuroprotective effect on traumatic brain injuries, but it is very preliminary. More new evidence shows some promise with CranioSacral Therapy as a means to concussion and PCS recovery, but again it's in initial stages. I am a member of the national concussion union and it seems some people it helps and others it does not, which is the case with a lot of the interventions for PCS. In reality, PCS is a very complex diagnosis with several factors playing into it, which is why some are considering splitting it up in several subcategories.

    Lastly, using orange safety goggles and programs like f.lux that removes or lessens blue light at certain wavelenghts can help you tolerate screens and generally protect your eyes and brain. That includes normalising melatonin levels and preventing degeneration of the DHA in your eyes. There are several apps for this as well on either Iphones or Androids.

    To summarise:
    1. Eat healthy, including plenty of fish (or supplement with fish oil)
    2. Be in good cardiovascular shape (perhaps include some non-compressive and light neck stretching and strengthening)
    3. Take less punches, less often and with less force
    4. Improve your defense, improve your positioning, do more drills and more shadowsparring
    5. Dont do drugs and keep alcohol consumption low-moderate
    6. Get adequate rest and do de-stressing activities

    After the fact:
    7. Follow a very specific 'return to play' protocol and DO NOT let symptoms worsen. Take your time.
    8. Stay away from contact for longer than prescribed
    9. Try Fish oil, Curcumin, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Creatine, Resveratrol and others
    10. Try CBD oil
    11. If symptoms persist, try:
    - Graded exercise protocols (SYMPTOM FREE)
    - Body Awareness/Tai Chi, relaxation and meditation strategies
    - Cognitive Therapy with a neuropsychologist
    - CranioSacral Therapy
    Do:
    - Visit Neurologist
    - Visit Neuro-Optometrist
    - Use programs and glasses to filter out blue light from screens
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2018
  10. Tayski

    Tayski Stand-up Fighting

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    @Sano nice informative posts mate, great read. Thanks for taking the time.
     
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  11. Sano

    Sano Black Belt

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    Thanks man. Took a little time to get around to it because I'm preparing for some other stuff. Is it well enough explained and does it make sense? I try to make it accessible, but sometimes it's hard to gauge because I'm so used to the language.
     
  12. RabbitPunch36

    RabbitPunch36 White Belt

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    To me it is easy to read and understand. Thank you for taking the time to make this post.
     
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  13. Sano

    Sano Black Belt

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    Good to hear, you're welcome!
     
  14. Woldog

    Woldog Boxer

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    One of the biggest factors of concussions in fight sports is sparring even when supervised and your opponent thinks he's in a world title fight.
     
  15. VanteMMA

    VanteMMA Orange Belt

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    I do understand how you feel TS. I love boxing, and combat sports in general but most of you in this thread need to take off the rose tinted glasses.

    We're just beginning to understand the mechanisms of concussions and from a completely objective point of view it is better to er on the side of caution.

    I've switched my focus into doing alot more BJJ and wrestling since the last couple of years and I get to spar (roll) everyday. I do practise striking technique. All my striking / mma sparring is now light contact to the head. Protecting my brain is my first priority. I have average intellect, and I intend to save as much grey matter as I can. I do not spar with guys who can't control themselves. I've given up competitive MMA. BJJ tourneys is all I do now.

    Of course this is my choice, and I do not want nor intend to deride what choice you might make.

    If you do continue to take hard shots to the head on a regular basis, you're basically gambling.

    What I would recommend (to all of you) is to continue to challenge your mind with new things regularly. Be it a new physical movement (like dance or movement training, yup I said it, who knew it had its benefits), or crossword puzzles or whatever. But keep challenging your mind with novel skills. I forget whether it helps to make new neural pathways, or actually helps in the creation of new neurons. Either way, its been shown to delay the onset of dementia.

    Also certain foods tend to help. There's some evidence that Turmeric might help.

    Beyond that, good luck bros, hope each and every one of you hit the genetic lottery on concussion resistance.
     
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  16. Tayski

    Tayski Stand-up Fighting

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    Well explained and totally makes sense to me. Sometimes you gotta use a bit of the jargon to explain how things work.

    Thanks again for taking the time.
     
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  17. ttacker

    ttacker White Belt

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    Nto sure if this was already mentioned but I heard somewhere in the JRE podcast with Cat Zingano about a possible solution to the brain damage done.


    From what I remember it sounded promising...
     
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  18. Sano

    Sano Black Belt

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    For some, it seems to help, for others not. I read a few studies on it after listening to the podcast. It's the same with all treatments for PCS as it stands.

    I did find the use of EEGs very interesting though.
     
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  19. n.diazismylife1999

    n.diazismylife1999 Black Belt

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    What kind of symptoms did you have immediately after your concussions, and what symptoms remain?

    I've never felt hurt after sparring, but twice I've had a "cloudy" head for two days afterwards, where it's very clearly been harder to think and to remember than it usually is. Both times were due to lack of conditioning, and while they were good reminders to get my cardio in order, I've grown somewhat paranoid of concussion/PCS symptoms, especially given my history (headaches after judo practice as a child, one bad fall where I lost consciousness, migraine that stopped after I hit teens).

    Is reaction time at all a useful metric to test for in relation to all this? I figure it could be, for the same reasons that it correlates with IQ, such as the integrity of the neuronal processes.
     
  20. Odysseus

    Odysseus Yellow Belt

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    It sounds like you may have suffered a minor concussions in those instances. I had a minor concussion after I slipped a jab (it was actually a feint) to the right, and my head slammed into my training partners shin as he threw a left head kick. I knew it was a hard hit, but I felt fine and kept sparring. The next few days I just felt “off” and foggy- no real headache or anything. I also had trouble falling asleep that night after training so I thought maybe that was causing the foginess. My reaction times and coordination were also hindered for a good 3-5 days. I later found out from my doctor that these symptoms were all indicative of a concussion.
     

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