Home Science Health & Fitness Dangers of Brain Trauma: Why Pre-Fight Scans Are Justified

Dangers of Brain Trauma: Why Pre-Fight Scans Are Justified


Life is full of bumps and bruises, some literal and some figurative. Regardless of how they come though, everyone in or outside the cage should recognize that any repeated little trauma can add up to something big.

Mental illness and depression can be brought on by a number of factors including lifestyle, emotional stability and injury.

In the case of former Major League Baseball player Ryan Freel, who committed suicide last year, the culprit may have been the later. A recent study by the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and Sports Legacy Institute found that Freel was suffering from Stage II CTE. At this stage victims are prone to headaches, loss of attention, loss of concentration, short-term memory loss and depression.

During his career Freel was infamous for his fearless diving catches out in center field, which caused him a number of concussions some of which were severe enough to put him on the disabled list. This continual jarring of the brain can lead to CTE and is now faulted for his death.

This finding justifies the rules followed by most states, which bar MMA fighters from competing for a certain amount of time post knock-out or TKO. A lot of states also require MRI and/or CT scans as part of their pre-fight medical protocol, though this requirement does not typically have to be met before every bout. Precautions such as these, though not preventative may assist in early detection of any issues that could lead to serious long-term damage.


Fighters such as Thiago Alves and Brian Foster were put on notice of brain abnormalities found during pre-fight screening in 2010 and 2011. Because of this, the issues were addressed early on before they could progress to something more serious.

Though some in the MMA community may consider the tests costly and over valued, the safety of the fighter is priceless. Despite these screenings, it is always in the fighters best interest to take as many precautions as possible, the foremost of these being to wear headgear.