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HealioMMA Fighting Linked to Increased White Matter Hyperintensity Volume in Brain

MRI data were evaluated on 92 active professional mixed martial arts fighters to understand the effects of sparring on white matter and regional brain volumes. The researchers found a “very strong significant association between the amount of sparring per week and white matter hyperintensity volume and bilateral caudate size.”

According to one of the authors of the study, Aaron I. Esagoff, BS, a medical student at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and intern with the FDA: “The white matter hyperintensities might indicate some damage that comes with sparring. But the larger bilateral caudate compared to individuals who spar less might indicate a protective effect.”