I'd like to personally thank Robert Reid from the Australian Medical Association (WA) for his ongoing support, communication and information; the editor of The Guardian, Lucy Clark for her work on the piece, and my wife for the medical papers on concussion and brain disease (not linked to the article).
This was a relatively long piece for The Guardian. I'd like to thank them for publishing it - it's a brave move as the UFC and MMA lobbies have passionate fans.
With this genre there are cuts due to word limits (the subtitle was The Guardian's too). I respect their decisions as they know the medium and the nature of the internet far better than I do. I've supplied some dot points below.
- my wife is a rehab doctor who has worked in Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) and also studies it. I didn't mention this in the article but I have room to here. She directed me to numerous articles on the subject of concussion and brain atrophy and also brain trauma. Doctors in the ABI ward are deeply disappointed by McGowan's promise. I've just listed a couple of medical research articles that my wife sent me, which are worth pursuing - but there is a heap out there on the long term effects of brain trauma and concussion:
- David E. Ross, Alfred L. Ochs, Jan M. Seabaugh, Michael F. DeMark, CaroleR. Shrader, Jennifer H. Marwitz & Michael D. Havranek for the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative have written about progressive brain atrophy in patients after mild traumatic brain injury
- James H. Cole, PhD, Robert Leech, PhD, and David J. Sharp, PhD, for the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative have written about the prediction of brain accelerated atrophy after traumatic brain injury
- MMA causes brain damage. There is brain shrinkage in both boxing and MMA (boxing slightly higher), but what most articles (outside of medical journals) don't cover is that concussion also has strong links to brain atrophy in the long run. I'm not concentrating on deaths, I'm concerned about the human cost in the long run and the cost to the community.
- Concussion has been strongly linked to long term brain disease and long term brain atrophy. The danger is that these effects appear years, often decades, later ( the medical and neurological journals are clear on this - the two papers referred to earlier are a good start if you're interested in the latest research). MMA has more blows to already unconscious people than any other sport: an incredibly high average of 2.6 head strikes to already unconscious fighters.
- Without the Cage, the MMA is currently on the wane here in WA. It has not gone underground. It's just dwindling.
- I'm not the one calling for a ban on the cage (the subtitle of the article is misleading) - I can't as cage fighting is already illegal in WA. Opposition Leader, Mr McGowan, however, has promised to make it legal if elected. This comes after meetings in Perth with the UFC executive Tom Wright. Wright has also assured a UFC fight in Perth if the sport is legalised. I'm calling on McGowan to not legalise the cage.
- The move to legalise the cage over East just fuelled the sport. The fact is the less people involved the better for all. So the 'Safety' call regarding a cage is not at all true.
- I do care about a range of other issues like the environment, a more compassionate refugee policy, egalitarian values, wildlife, education, the arts etc. I've chosen to write about this as I've an uncle who worked with 'punch drunks' as a GP (boxing), my wife works in medical rehab... and most importantly, I don't want McGowan introducing a bloodline-injection into the sport via his promise to legitimise the cage. He's trying to pull the wool over our eyes.
- McGowan's actions, fuelled by business interests and UFC dollars, run contrary to Labor's traditional prioritisation of Health. The Australian Medical Association strongly condemn the move. The science on concussion and the sport is irrefutable - both short term and long term. The figures over East condemn the move. AMA (WA) and its President Dr Andrew Miller justifiably condemn the move.
I appreciate that this topic may polarise people. Conversation and debate and dialogue are always welcome. I'm happy for all your comments to be put up over at The Guardian but I won't be open for comment here as I rarely view my blog and won't have the time to reply. All the aforementioned points are just to provide further context for those interested.