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    Stirling University study shows brain impact of routine sparring

    Written by on September 14, 2019

    A Stirling University study’s found routine sparring in boxing can have a knock-on effect on the brain.

    Researchers found boxers who’d sparred had reduced memory performance, as well as short term brain-to-muscle impairments.

    It follows a 2016 study, which looked at the impact of heading footballs.

    Dr Tom Di Virgilio led the study:

    “For many years, a debate has taken place around the safety of boxing, however, these discussions often focus on heavy blows inflicted during competitive fights. In contrast, we looked at subconcussive impacts – those that are below the concussion threshold – inflicted during training sessions.

    “Our findings are important because they show that routine practices may have immediate effects on the brain. Furthermore, athletes may be at greater risk of injury if the communications between the brain and muscles are impaired.”

    “We have previously shown that the repetitive heading of footballs results in short-term changes to brain function and this latest study sought to understand whether similar effects were observed in training practices in other sports. Although transient, we found that brain changes observed after sparring are reminiscent of effects seen following brain injury.

    “As with our previous research into heading footballs, it is not possible to say whether there is a ‘safe’ threshold when it comes to the level of impact in sparring. Further research is required to help sportspeople – and the academic community – fully understand the dangers posed by subconcussive impacts, routine in sport, and any measures that can be taken to mitigate against these risks.”