Full-contact professional fighters try to inflict punishment by landing blows to the head and upper body. No or light-contact fighters have a different goal. They try to outscore their opponents with a minimum of injuries. They use fighting as a way to improve their conditioning and coordination. As a safety precaution, they use protective equipment to soften the force of blows and their fights have shorter rounds. Limiting the length of rounds and the number of rounds reduces the effect of fatigue on the fighter. Many injuries occur late in fights, so shorter fights are much safer. Despite these precautions, injuries may still occur:
A knockout is, by definition, a concussion. A fighter who is "out on his feet" has suffered a concussion. If you have been knocked out, you should be examined carefully by a neurologist. A professional boxer who has been knocked out is required to wait three to six months, depending on where the fight took place, before he can fight again.
Cumulative head trauma is another problem. Repeated blows to the head can cause the brain to rock against the side of the skull. This kills brain cells due to bleeding in the brain and leads to small areas of scarring. The result is the "punch-drunk" syndrome, where the fighter's loss of brain tissue is sufficient to interfere with his mental function. Most professional boxers who have fought more than 50 times, even though they may show no outward signs of brain damage, have inhibited thinking ability and may suffer from headaches, blurred vision, or memory loss.
The most severe head injury is a brain hemorrhage from a violent blow to the head, which can result in paralysis or death. However, this type of injury is rare for those who wear head protection.
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