April 1987

Neurologic Aspects of Boxing

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Neurology and Public Health, Cornell University Medical College, and the Sports Neurology Program, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York.

Arch Neurol. 1987;44(4):453-459. doi:10.1001/archneur.1987.00520160083020

• The assessment and prevention of potentially adverse neurologic consequences of boxing requires two important considerations. Acute neurologic injuries should be distinguished from chronic brain injuries and the level of competitive boxing (ie, amateur vs professional) must also be taken into account. Acute neurologic injuries such as concussion, postconcussion syndrome, intracranial hemorrhage, and brain contusion are more readily identified than chronic neurologic injuries because of their immediate devastation of the nervous system. In contrast, chronic neurologic injuries differ in their pathophysiologic mechanisms that are exemplified by an insidious onset and progression after the cessation of boxing. Accordingly, the chronic traumatic encephalopathy of boxing poses the most serious neurologic threat of boxing. Amateur boxing differs from professional boxing in the duration of fights, rules and regulatory policies, medical evaluation, and protective devices. These factors could produce a differential effect on the risk of injury to the brain. The prevention of neurologic injuries in boxing requires the integration of proper neurologic evaluation by qualified ringside physicians, the design and utilization of effective protective devices, and the establishment of national regulatory agencies.