There’s no denying over the past couple of years that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has become one of the hottest topics in sports.
While most of the CTE discussion has been focused on the NFL, earlier this year, former Bellator featherweight Jordan Parsons was diagnosed with CTE following a May motorcycle accident that claimed his life.
According to Boston University, CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma.
Looking to get ahead of the curve, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, has declared that starting in 2017 all Straight Blast Gym Ireland (SBG) fighters will be required to have an MRI brain scan in order to represent the team in active competition.
In a post released Monday on his Facebook page, Kavanagh said, “For 2017 ALL SBG fighters, both amateur and professional, will be getting a one-off brain scan to make sure there’s no underlying issues that would preclude them from competing.
Kavanagh further explained that the motivation behind pre-emptive testing is not only related to possible brain trauma fighters may experience in their careers, but also possible preexisting conditions that athletes might not even know they have.
“Take 100 random people and scan them and a small percentage will have an issue that would stop them competing,” said Kavanagh. “This is not from training in MMA or any other sport, but could be genetic or from some illness when young.
“Either way, we’re lucky in Ireland that SAFE MMA Ireland have secured scans for just €150 ($156) to give athletes peace of mind they are clear for training/competing. I would strongly advise all Irish based fighters, pro or (amateur) to take advantage of this great offer.”
Professor Dan Healy said of the pre-clearance MRI scan offered through SAFE MMA Ireland in a release on the organization’s website, “€150/£125 ($156) is only marginally higher than cost-price and we are grateful to the Bon Secours (Hospital in Glasnevin, Dublin) for providing this service.
“To date, no other MRI unit in Ireland has offered a similar cost for this scan.”
The SAFE MMA Ireland release concluded with, “SAFE MMA Ireland is a totally voluntary project. Our sole motive is to make MMA safer. No doctor takes fees or expenses or any other benefit, directly or indirectly.”
As CTE and other potentially deadly forms of brain trauma continue to have more light shed on them in athletics, Kavanagh and SAFE MMA Ireland’s efforts could help pave the way for other teams and organizations to help take preventative measures for fighters in the future.
(Photo courtesy of UFC)