Studies Prove Boxing Can Result in Permanent Brain Damage


While the dangers of boxing have been a hot topic of debate for years, no one can argue the fact that the repeated blows to the head professional boxers endure can result in severe speech problems, loss of motor control, and tremors. The combination of symptoms that boxers suffer after repeated blows to the head has been given the name dementia pugilistica or punch-drunk syndrome.

Though amateur boxers are believed to be at a much lower risk of the long-term damage of professional boxing, research published in the Archives of Neurology in 2006 presents clear evidence that boxing at any level is damaging to the brain. In one study, samples of cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds the brain, was taken from 14 amateur boxers. When neurons from that fluid become damaged, they die, releasing proteins back into the cerebrospinal fluid. Levels of proteins in the boxers were four times higher than a control group of men who have never boxed. Though none of the boxers involved in the study exhibited any outward signs of cognitive damage or head trauma such as dizziness, slurred speech, or confusion, the proteins found in their cerebrospinal fluid were a clear indication that brain damage had occurred.

Though there are medical professionals who take issue with this study and are confident that boxing is safe, the research clearly shows evidence that cells die after repeated blows to the head and that damage can result leaving the boxer with many permanent side effects known collectively as dementia-pugilistica.