Determining brain fitness to fight: Has the time come?

Phys Sportsmed. 2015 Nov;43(4):395-402. doi: 10.1080/00913847.2015.1081551. Epub 2015 Aug 21.


Professional boxing is associated with a risk of chronic neurological injury, with up to 20-50% of former boxers exhibiting symptoms of chronic brain injury. Chronic traumatic brain injury encompasses a spectrum of disorders that are associated with long-term consequences of brain injury and remains the most difficult safety challenge in modern-day boxing. Despite these concerns, traditional guidelines used for return to sport participation after concussion are inconsistently applied in boxing. Furthermore, few athletic commissions require either formal consultation with a neurological specialist (i.e. neurologist, neurosurgeon, or neuropsychologist) or formal neuropsychological testing prior to return to fight. In order to protect the health of boxers and maintain the long-term viability of a sport associated with exposure to repetitive head trauma, we propose a set of specific requirements for brain safety that all state athletic commissions would implement.

Keywords: Concussion; boxing; dementia; return to play; traumatic brain injury.

MeSH terms

  • Boxing / injuries*
  • Brain Concussion / etiology*
  • Brain Injury, Chronic* / etiology
  • Brain Injury, Chronic* / prevention & control
  • Brain*
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Return to Sport*
  • Safety*