Do Boxing Professionals Have Low IQ?

Repeated head trauma can indeed cause reduction in cognitive function over a period of several years

If you were ever hit on the head by something, you will understand the immense pain it creates. Head injuries can leave us dazed for several minutes and we may even become unconscious. In this context, now imagine the plight of boxing professionals who have to endure several knocks to their heads in each match. It makes us wonder if boxing professionals start losing their intelligence with time. To answer that, here are some important things to understand.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

Boxing professionals have a higher risk of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). This neurodegenerative disease is often seen in people who experience brain trauma on a repetitive basis. Boxing professionals are at risk as they have to endure frequent punches to their heads.

In any boxing match, the boxing professionals target the head most of the time. Hits to the chin, jaw, temple, nose and eyes can eventually transfer the impact to the brain. This in turn increases the risk of CTE. This neurodegenerative disease can cause symptoms such as impaired judgment, depression, confusion, memory loss and progressive dementia.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

In their professional career, boxing professionals have to endure heavy blows to their brain. Studies show that a boxer can deliver punches with a force of up to 5,000 newtons. That is more than 1,100 pounds-force (approx. 500 kg). With such a significant impact, it is easy to imagine the damage it can cause to the brain.

Moreover, boxing professionals have to take such hits multiple times in a match. Boxers are often diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). It can vary from mild concussion to major brain injuries. In case of multiple TBIs, there can be neurological issues and long-term cognitive decline.

What data reveals?

A number of research studies have been conducted to understand the impact of boxing on cognitive function. It has been found that professional boxers have a higher risk of cognitive impairment in comparison to the general population. Professional boxers often have issues with attention span, memory, processing speed and execution function. It has also been found that the longer the boxer’s career and the more the total number of fights, the higher is the degree of cognitive impairment.

How to manage risk of cognitive decline?

It is evident from above facts that boxing professionals have a higher risk of cognitive decline. As such, the statement that boxers can experience reduced IQ during their career is true. However, the risk can be minimized by wearing the necessary protective gear.

A headgear can be useful, although it will not completely eliminate the risk of cognitive decline. Regular medical tests can also help identify cognitive decline at an early stage. In such cases, the boxer may choose to end their professional career or reduce the number of fights.

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