2015 study compares injury rates between MMA and boxing

MixedMartialArts.com recently highlighted the Combat Sports Law Blog of Erik Magraken, a litigation lawyer and combat sports law consultant from British Columbia, Canada. Magraken reported the findings of a recently published study in The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, titled Combative Sports Injuries: An Edmonton Retrospective, comparing boxing and MMA injury rates over a 13 year period. The study reviewed post-fight medical exams of both boxers and MMA fighters in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada from 2000-2013. Mixed Martial Arts involves a more diverse physical interaction between athletes than boxing, with its inclusion of punches, kicks and grappling. Focussed on more areas of the opponent’s body than boxing, which is limited to punches aimed at the head the head and torso, the MMA findings resulted in a greater overall injury rate in combat sports.  However the majority of these injuries came mostly in the form of more minor soft tissue damage, contusions and bruising. In contrast, it was found that boxers came under a greater threat of serious injury due to increased risk of brain trauma and eye damage. From CombatSportsLaw.com, Sept.5, 2015: Objective: Mixed martial arts (MMA) is an increasingly popular combative sport involving aggressive techniques that present substantial injury risk. We examined the incidence and types of injuries sustained in MMA fights and compared this with injuries sustained in boxing matches. Design: Consecutive Case Series. Setting: We used data from post-fight medical examinations on all bouts in Edmonton, Canada, between 2000 and 2013. Participants: The participants were 1181 MMA competitors and 550 boxers. Main Outcome Measures: The attending physician conducted a mandatory post-fight examination of all fighters and documented the nature of injuries sustained. Results: Boxers were significantly more likely not to experience injury (49.8% vs 59.4%, P < 0.001), whereas MMA fighters were significantly more likely to experience 1 injury (typically contusion/bruising, P < 0.001). Boxers were more likely to experience loss of consciousness (7.1% vs 4.2%, P = 0.01) and serious eye injury (1.1% vs 0.3%, P = 0.02). Conclusions: The overall injury incidence in MMA competitors appears slightly higher than for boxers, but MMA fighters experience more minor contusion/bruising injuries. Boxers are more likely to experience serious injury such as concussion/head trauma involving loss of consciousness or eye injury such as retinal detachment.

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