CTE Study Shows 41% of Fighters Tested Positive For TES

A New Study Done By The British Journal of Sports Medicine Could Improve Our Understanding of CTE.

CTE
Boxing knockout (Left)(Image via Bleacher Report) and a brain (Right)(Image via USA Today)

There has been a new development in CTE research.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) continues to be studied despite current technology only allowing for post-mortem diagnoses. The British Journal of Sports Medicine believes testing athletes for traumatic encephalopathy syndrome (TES) might help better understand CTE. 

The latest study featured 176 fighters, with 67 still active. After testing every fighter for TES, 41% were diagnosed as positive based on criteria built by professionals. Further conclusions were made about the age fighters start training and the number of knockouts sustained being primary factors for the high percentage of TES.

Out of 176 fighters tested, 110 were boxers, with the rest being MMA fighters. Although MMA also contributed to the results, boxers tend to start fighting earlier and more often, which puts them at a higher risk of TES. 

According to BloodyElbow’s review of the study, the statistics were backed by attempting to limit outliers: 

“To be counted as a fighter with TES, the combat sports athlete study had certain boxes that needed to be checked. TES positive athletes had to have had substantial exposure to repeated head injuries (RHI), cognitive impairment and/or poorly regulated emotional responses, progression of symptoms and no other factors could be responsible for their symptoms.”

Most combat sports fans wouldn’t be shocked by the idea of fighters having CTE or TES. The more significant concern is the high percentage of fighters suffering from severe brain damage. The British Journal of Sports Medicine clarified that fighters diagnosed with TES might not have CTE. Yet, the development of new studies and ways of thinking could help improve fighters’ safety in the future. 

Julie Kedzie will donate her brain to CTE studies

The only way to diagnose someone with CTE is after they pass away. More fighters have recently volunteered for post-mortem testing, but there has reportedly been a lack of female participants. Luckily, one UFC veteran has stepped up. 

Julie Kedzie, who fought twice in 2013 for the UFC, losing both fights, has agreed to donate her brain to CTE research. According to MMA Underground, Kedzie had this to say about her decision: 

“I just thought it was the right thing to do and wanted to know how to do it, and then did it!”

The lack of information on head trauma in fighters is concerning. Although it’s an accepted risk by fighters, further knowledge could help lower the percentages of those affected. The bravery of Kedzie and other athletes willing to donate their brains for research could benefit future generations.

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