Boxing injuries in the young – could this lead to brain damage?

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A study conducted in the USA has looked into the possible long-term effects of boxing injuries suffered by young people as they take part in the sport. The study spanned 19 years, during which time American emergency departments treated an average of 8,700 boxing injuries every year, with around 2,500 of that number being suffered by children aged six to 17.

Boxing injuries – head and neck injuries

Head and neck injuries made up almost a quarter of the injuries treated, with the most concerning part of the study discovering the amount of concussions and closed head injuries (CHI) suffered amongst youngsters involved in boxing as a recreational sport.

"The fact that young boxers are experiencing a similar proportion of concussions and CHI's as older boxers is extremely concerning given the potential risk of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) with repetitive brain trauma. These repetitive blows to the head may be placing boxers under 18 years of age at risk for neurological impairment and psychological problems due to CTE” said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH and senior author of the study.

He added: "Although there is risk of injury with most sports, boxing is unique because participants are rewarded for intentionally striking their opponent in the face and head with the intent of harming or incapacitating them."

"The increasing number of boxing injuries, coupled with the potential long-term consequences of these injuries, suggests that increased injury prevention efforts are needed."

We hope that the American findings will be acted upon here in the UK and that whilst we don’t deter our youngsters from enjoying and excelling at this sport, more will be done to prevent any long-term brain damage associated with boxing.


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