Neurologist puts risk in fighters' hands

February 08, 2018
Dr Dean Hertzler
Kemahl 'Hitman' Russell (left) looks on as his opponent, Nigel Edwards, lies prone after being caught by a one-punch knockout during their 2017 Contender finals pro under-card fight.

Dr Dean Hertzler, an American neurologist, said the decision to partake in sports such as boxing, mixed martial arts, and other 'blood sports' comes down to the competitors themselves, who must consider the risk of what they do.

In light of recent fears regarding head injuries in contact sports, Hertzler said that there is no need to ban sports in which there may be higher risks of concussions and brain damage.

Hertzler was in Montego Bay recently, speaking at a the 16th Annual Caribbean Neurosciences Congress and Symposium (CANS). His presentation regarded concussions, traumatic brain injuries, and spine trauma as well as the management of minor and major neurosurgical trauma due to sports injuries.

"I think that really comes down to a judgement call of society," Hertzler said. "I think that the people competing in these sports need to know the risks. If they know the risks and they really enjoy doing it, and it provides a livelihood, if they make the informed choice to do it, then I think it's okay, but there's a definite risk.




"There probably should be a limited timeline on how long they could do it. Following their neurocognitive assessment, looking at their brain function and testing, as they're starting out in the sport, if they start seeing declines, then they shouldn't do it anymore," he pointed out.

Meanwhile, four-time world heavyweight champion Evander 'The Real Deal' Holyfield said that in his time as a boxer, he was never worried about such risks as every aspect of life possesses potential danger.

"In boxing, if you get hit all the time, then it is a problem," Holyfield told STAR Sports. "But, for me, I didn't get hit all the time. But, then again, my whole thing, with me being a Christian, I tell my kids, you need to be protected by Jesus. Give Him the praise, give Him the glory.

"Shoot, you can get a concussion just lying down in bed, falling off the bed and hitting your head. As a Christian, I didn't have that kinda fear that something terrible's gonna happen to me. That could happen to you anywhere."

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