At the beginning of May, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) released its first concussion protocol, based on a comprehensive study conducted in the field of MMA. The UFC Performance Institute stated that its goal was to create a safer environment and help the fighters who suffer any kind of head trauma.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) are very common in contact sports. Namely, recent CTE statistics show that head injuries are the most common form of injuries in MMA, which can have a devastating effect on the health of those who suffer from it.
If untreated properly, concussions quickly lead to both TBI and CTE, which is why the Protocol regulates specific stages fighters need to take following a concussion. Of course, these stages are intended to be adapted to the individual needs of all fighters—before each stage, they will fill in a questionnaire about the symptoms they are experiencing at that point of recovery.
The first step/stage is resting, which is a general recommendation for all patients. This gives your brain the necessary time to regenerate without having to deal with additional external stimuli. After the resting phase, fighters can start working out but this can strictly involve only no-contact workouts.
These phases are designed so the fighter can ease their body back into physical activity without risking additional injuries or setbacks in recovery. The final stage is live sparring which simulates a real fight. However, the fighter will ultimately need a physician’s approval before starting full contact again.
The UFC hopes to spread the awareness of how dangerous head injuries can be, and how crucial it is to receive the right treatment. The road to recovery is never easy, but it is necessary: bed rest, relaxing massages, and physician visits all have the purpose of restoring your body to its previous condition.