A history of sports-related head trauma may be associated with long-term neurological deficits. As such, methods to monitor certain aspects of neurological function in combat athletes could provide useful information and optimise the integration of protective strategies.


This was another great study from @  ‘s group out of Victoria University in British Columbia. 67 participants, including 19 striking combat sports (MMA, kickboxing, muay thai) athletes, 25 athletes from non-striking combat sports and other sports, and 23 active controls, underwent testing on an electronic balance board. Participants who had sustained head trauma in the prior 3 days or had been diagnosed with a concussion in the prior 3 months were excluded from the study. Assessment involved both static and dynamic (reaction to a visual stimulus) tests on different surfaces and in different stances. These tests have been shown to be sensitive to changes in postural stability post-concussion. 


Although most of the tests revealed no difference between groups, the static balance assessment in double-leg stance on a firm surface indicated poorer postural stability in the group of athletes exposed to head contacts.  

This paper adds to the growing body of literature on the topic, and suggests that more research should be conducted, potentially utilising more challenging forms of balance assessment to identify patterns of postural instability among combat sports athletes and develop a protocol for long-term assessment. 

#thescienceofstriking #concussion #traumaticbraininjury #vestibularassessment #boxing #kickboxing #mma

#thescienceofstriking #concussion #traumaticbraininjury #vestibularassessment #boxing #kickboxing #mma

Follmer, Bruno, Aaron Alexander Varga, Konrad Byron Herrmann, Yao Sun, and E. Paul Zehr. “Effects of chronic exposure to head impacts on the balance function of combat sports athletes.” Translational Sports Medicine.

About the author

Sam Gilbert

Sam Gilbert is a registered physiotherapist with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy from Latrobe university (Melbourne, Australia) and a master’s degree in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) from Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia).

A 3rd Dan black belt in Shinkyokushinkai Karate under the World Karate Organisation (WKO), Sam participated for over 20 years in full contact competition, winning multiple state and national titles, and culminating in a 4th place in the heavyweight division of the Shinkyokushinkai World Cup in 2009.

As the co-founder and clinical director of Club 360, the premier multi-disciplinary health and fitness center in Tokyo, Japan, Sam has combined his practical experience with an in-depth study of sports performance in relation to combat sports, and strives to help other combat athletes reach their full competitive potential, whilst at the same time decreasing injury risk and increasing competition and training potential.

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By Sam Gilbert