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Martial arts tests keep sport safe
Posted on Sun, Apr 10, 2011 at 8:44 am
by IDMA Editor

As a physician who specializes in sports medicine and who has served as a ringside doctor for boxing and mixed martial arts, I applaud the state Legislature's commitment to issues of safety in sports.

As a doctor who has treated athletes who compete in mixed martial arts, I can tell you unequivocally that the sport is safe, when properly regulated.

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found a direct correlation between brain injury, rounds fought and number of head blows fighters receive. Mixed martial arts fights only last three to five rounds and much of that consists of wrestling. A John Hopkins University study concluded that in terms of brain trauma, mixed martial arts was safer that boxing.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has one of the strictest concussion policies I have encountered in sports. The average time an NFL player sat out due to a concussion from 2002 to 2007 was 4.73 days. The UFC bars fighters from physical contact for at least 60 days (including training) and must be cleared by a doctor after concussions.

The UFC has mandatory steroid and recreational drug testing. Referees can end a fight at any time. The league requires MRIs, angiograms, baseline ophthalmological exams and blood screening for fighters, plus four ringside doctors and two ambulances at each venue.

Voting to regulate mixed martial arts will help ensure that these athletes can compete safely in New York.

Todd Schlifstein teaches at New York University School of Medicine, is a ringside doctor for boxing and mixed martial arts, and has testified at congressional hearings as a medical expert.

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