An Investigation of Head Accelerometry, Cognitive Function, and Brain Blood Flow during Intercollegiate Boxing and Its Impact Regarding Head Injury Assessment in Combat

Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology -


Doan, B., M. Hanna, G. Adam, A. Wile, M. Butler, B. Self, K. Heaton and T. Brininger.



Objective: The goal of this study was to investigate head impacts, neuropsychological performance, and cerebral blood flow in intercollegiate boxers to increase understanding about consequences of head impacts in this population. If significant correlations were found between measures, recommendations for increasing efficiency of head impact assessment in combat environments might be made. Method: Participants were 31 intercollegiate male boxers with a mean age of 20.74 years, height 70.14 in., weight 164.32 lbs., and experience 1.5 years. Assessments occurred before and after two full-effort 2-min sparring rounds. The Impact Headgear system tracked location/number of head impacts, translational acceleration, and rotational forces. The ImPACT test and Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics (ANAM) measured neuropsychological performance and the Brain Acoustic Monitor (BAM) measured cerebral blood flow. Sparring bouts were videotaped to validate head impacts. Results: Impact Headgear recorded an average of 26.81 impacts per boxer, most of which were below the 25% probability for brain injury. The ImPACT test showed a decrease in verbal memory (p , .05), delayed memory (p , .01), and improved reaction time (p , .01). The ANAM showed a decrease in delayed memory (p , .01) and improved reaction time (p , .01). BAM detected no significant changes, and no significant correlations were found between the BAM and the neuropsychological measures. Conclusion: In the current sample, head impacts were below threshold to cause brain disturbance detectable through BAM; however, consistent with research in amateur boxing, mild decline in memory function was detected. Research with a larger sample across greater impacts is recommended to further investigate the efficacy of the BAM.

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