Traumatic Brain Injury in Fighting Sports

  • Renato Anghinah
  • Jéssica Natuline Ianof


The association of repetitive brain trauma with progressive neurological deterioration has been described since the 1920s. Punch-drunk syndrome and dementia pugilistica (DP) were introduced first to explain symptoms in boxers, and more recently, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has been used to describe a neurodegenerative disease in people with a history of multiple concussions, such as athletes.

The most common cause of death in sports-related traumatic brain injury, especially in boxers, is subdural hematoma. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) associated with boxing occurs in approximately 20% of professional boxers. Repetitive head traumas also occur in other fighting sports, like mixed martial arts and kickboxing – the head is the most common site of injury in amateur and professional kickboxers. Chronic TCE can be caused by knockout (KO) with loss of consciousness or by the cumulative effect of punching or kicking the head. Risk factors associated with CTE include increased exposure (duration of career, age of retirement, total number of bouts) and poor performance.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) Repetitive TBI Head injury Chronic traumatic encephalopathy Knockout Fighting Sports Boxing Mixed martial arts Kickboxing 


Conflict of Interest

There is no conflict of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Renato Anghinah
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jéssica Natuline Ianof
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurology – Cognitive Rehabilitation after TBIClinics Hospital – School of Medicine – University of São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Center of Excellence in Neurology – Americas Serviços MédicosSão PauloBrazil

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