I got punched in the head really hard at training last night. I wasn’t exactly knocked out, but I’ve been feeling a bit dazed ever since. How do I know if I need to go to hospital?
You may have had a concussion. If you are concerned, then you should seek medical help.
You are strongly advised to go to hospital immediately if you have any of the following:
- Any loss of consciousness
- Severe headache
- Slurred speech
- Blurred or double vision
- Loss of memory
- Confusion, disorientation or personality change
- Blood or clear fluid draining from the nose or ears
Don’t you have to have been unconscious to have a concussion?
Not necessarily. A concussion just means an injury to the brain as a result of a violent blow or shaking that causes a (usually temporary) change in mental status. This might involve being unconscious, or in the case of a mild concussion you may just feel a bit dazed and confused.
I got knocked out in training last week. I feel ok now, although I still can’t remember what happened. I have a fight in two weeks, and I’m a bit worried about it. My coach says I’m just being soft. What do you think?
You’re right to be worried. Going back to training or fighting too soon after being knocked out is taking a big risk with your health.
In the US, where MMA is regulated by the state athletic commissions, any fighter who suffers a knockout in competition is suspended from fighting and sparring for a minimum of 30 days (sometimes longer, depending on the injury). Boxers are subject to similar stipulations.
In the UK, promotions that are regulated by SAFE MMA also issue a mandatory suspension following a KO.
These rules exist to protect the long term health of the fighters, and a responsible coach will ensure that their fighters stick to them, whether or not MMA is regulated in their area, and whether the injury happens in sparring or in competition.
Surely that’s just the doctors being over cautious though. I know loads of people who’ve been knocked out and went back to training in a couple of days, and they all seem fine. What’s the worst that could happen?
The most serious concern is something called “Second Impact Syndrome” (SIS). This is where a relatively minor blow to the head following a concussion occasionally results in massive swelling in the brain. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it’s usually fatal.
That’s not the only concern though. Repeated concussions can cause cumulative brain damage. The risk of this happening is much higher if a fighter returns to sparring or fighting too soon after a knockout without leaving enough time to recover.
Is it true that a fighter can only be knocked out so many times before his “chin goes”?
There’s some truth in this. Every time a fighter is knocked out, his chances of being concussed again in the future increase. This is especially true if the KOs happen close together.
Taking time off after a concussion is both important for your long term health and also for your MMA career. Nobody wants the curse of the glass jaw!