According to the Center for Disease Control, every year in the United States there are approximately 1.4 million reported incidents of traumatic brain injury. (1) Such injuries are common in contact sports. such as football, hockey and boxing. It has been estimated that 10 percent of college football players sustain such an injury each year. (2)
Very little in known about the incidence of traumatic head injuries in professional wrestlers. A review of the available medical literature revealed only one published study which was conducted by Nomoto et al. from the Omori Medical Center in Japan. Medical examinations for head trauma were performed on 18 female wrestlers belonging to a Japanese wrestling organization. The Women were ages 15 to 34. Chronic symptoms were present in four wrestlers. (3)
The symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury include confusion, amnesia, headache, dizziness, nausea, and lack of awareness of surroundings. Loss of consciousness does not always occur.
For most cases of mild traumatic brain injury the likelihood of a complete recovery is good. There are however a number of well recognized complications. Postconcussion syndrome results in symptoms such as headache, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, cognitive changes, and dizziness. Symptoms usually resolve within a few months. Post-traumatic headaches typically develop within days to months after the injury. Symptoms can resemble tension and migraine headaches.
Bennet Omalu, M.D., forensic neuropathologist at the Brain Injury Research Center believes deceased American professional wrestler Chris Benoit suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy based on the autopsy findings. (5) He also studied brain tissue from deceased American professional wrestler Andrew Martin (Test) and found evidence of similar changes. (6)
|Andrew Martin (Test)|
Former American professional wrestler Chris Nowinski is the founder of the Sports Legacy Institute, a not for profit organization dedicated to the study of concussions. (7) WWE, as part of the Talent Wellness Program monitors professional wrestlers with the imPACT concussion management program. (8)
- J Head Trauma Rehabil 1998; 13: 53.
- Neurologia Medico-Chirugica 2007; 47(4): 147.
- JAMA 1997; 278: 136.
- J Forensic Nursing 2010; 130.
- www. espn.com 12/9/09.
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The medical resource www.uptodate.com was used in the preparation of this blog.