Can I do boxing with epilepsy?

bsoates

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Hello all,
I am a nineteen year old male interested in competing in amateur boxing . Three years ago, I had two tonic clonic seizures from unknown causes and was diagnosed with epilepsy (they both occurred following late nights staying up writing papers for school). I had many neurological tests done which all came back normal (including 2 EEGs) and it was determined that my seizures were NOT a direct result of a head injury (I have never knowingly suffered a concussion or head injury). Without hesitation, I was allowed to continue playing football for the rest of my high school career. Since my seizures, I have been put on Keppra and have been completely seizure free. This whole thread may seem very foolish, but my question is whether or not it would be alright for me to compete in amateur boxing; more specifically, is there any evidence that blows to the head/concussions could aggravate my disorder or make it worse? Obviously, the first thing I need to do would be to talk to my neurologist, but I was wondering if anyone had any insight or opinions they would like to share. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.
 

epileric

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Welcome bsoates

Whether you go into boxing is really your choice but you have to remember that many athletes in the rougher sports have developed seizures from too many blows to the head. If you are concerned about your seizures as you seem to be I personally would find another sport.

If you do go in, I would hope you do consider the risks. Besides the obvious of developing/worsening your seizures, some of the side-effects of keppra are fatigue, slowed reflexes. Those are not good things to have against you in such a competitive sport.
 

Endless

Even Keel
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Bsoates,

Welcome to the forum!

There is no way your doctors could have known if your seizures were due to a head injury. Many head injuries can't be seen on an MRI or CT scan. The damage is at a microscopic level and can only be diagnosed during an autopsy. Seizures from a head injury can show up minutes to years after an injury. Even several mild injuries (that you may not have even been aware of) can cause cumulative damage that has long-lasting effects on your brain.

Like eric said, it's up to you whether you box, but there are some things you might want to consider in your decision.

Even if you don't remember a concussion or head injury, they may still happened. Just experiencing routine hits playing football, and having your head joggled around can do cumulative damage over time. Thing is, we don't always recognize a minor TBI (traumatic brain injury) when it happens. We may just have a headache, be extra irritable, feel weak or a little dizzy, need someone to repeat something a few times before we get it, or just be a little tired or sick to our stomaches and need to rest for awhile. Those are all symptoms of a mild TBI. And if you are hit several times in one or two days, it can be serious.

Check this out:

http://www.headinjury.com/sports.htm

If you are boxing and are punched in the head, even once, it could do the same thing. They've also done a lot of research on cumulative minor TBIs in soldiers:
I am very concerned about the impact of repetitive mild head injuries occurring in the battlefield. These injuries are also present in the general population, for example young athletes who play soccer, hockey, lacrosse and other contact sports. We think that these repetitive injuries can be problematic, but we do not have a good understanding about their role in the development of epilepsy... Over 2,000 soldiers have “officially” been diagnosed with brain injury, but many health care professionals are concerned that the number of returning troops with TBI is much higher because cases of “mild” TBI may not be recognized early.
http://www.epilepsy.com/articles/post_traumatic_injuries_army

Numerous studies of professional boxers have shown that repeated brain injury can lead to chronic encephalopathy, termed dementia pugilistica... Likewise, the autopsies of 2 former professional football players with a history multiple concussions demonstrated changes that were consistent with chronic encephalopathy.
Another investigation of retired professional football players showed a 3-fold increase of depression in players with a history of 3 or more concussions. Older studies of American and Australian rules football showed no effect from repetitive mild head injuries. However, more recent studies of collegiate football players showed an association between multiple concussions and reduced cognitive performance, prolonged recovery, and the increased likelihood of subsequent concussions.

Evidence has also been gleaned from other sports that involve head impact. Nonrandomized studies of soccer players who have had multiple minor concussions have demonstrated that these individuals performed worse on neuropsychologic tests compared with a control group.
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/92189-overview

What's more, you may feel fine for many years, just to have it show up later in life. Please read this article all the way to the bottom:
http://www.alzforum.org/res/for/journal/detail.asp?liveID=169

We determined that amateur boxers who sustained 15 or more punches to the head, or were groggy after the bout, showed pronounced increases in their cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of neurofilament light protein, tau protein, and glial fibrillary acidic protein seven to 10 days after the fight. These results suggest acute damage to axons and astroglial cells in the brain as a direct consequence of participation in an amateur boxing bout. All boxers were followed up after the summer rest, during which no fights occurred, with most of the protein changes returning to normal or close to normal levels. Importantly, none of the boxers in our study was knocked out. Together, these results, published in the September 2006 issue of the Archives of Neurology (Zetterberg et al., 2006), show that relatively mild traumatic brain injury through repeated head punches in amateur boxing results in the release of brain-specific proteins to the CSF that indicate structural injury to the brain. The molecular changes detected are likely to be even more pronounced in professional boxers and in boxers who have received a knockout punch.
In other words, take punches to the head and it will create permanent damage in your brain. And it doesn't take a knockout to do it, just the punches themselves.
 
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ColmanMac

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Hi Bsoates _ Good to meet you.
I'm not sure about mixing boxing with E as I'd be concerned about the constant jabs getting through to the head and shaking your brain like a jelly in a tub!

I've practised Shotokan Karate for many years - even after my brain injury as it was also important to maintain a regime of fitness & this covered all the bases.

Folk with Absences have often been found to benefit from a form of karate as it combats their probs with space, timing, speed & awareness.

Whilst I must obviously be careful in training in case I cop one, the most important thing is that Sensei & colleagues in the Dojo are aware of my condition & take appropriate care +, in Kumite I should wear a helmet, similar to those worn in amateur boxing.

Given where I've progressed to, Grade-wise, & the risks I've taken to reach there, it would be hypocritical of me to warn you off your chosen sport but, be very sensibly aware - it is a contact sport & folk do get hurt so treat your opponent with the respect he merits! ("Even monkeys fall from trees", as they say on Okinawa!).
BW; Col.
 

bsoates

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Thanks for the feedback guys. Some of that info about brain injury is very startling. I guess I have some thinking to do. Does the fact I already have epilepsy make me more prone to having seizures as a result of further head trauma than someone who does not have epilepsy?
 
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epileric

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I think being epileptic makes you more prone to having seizures even without head trauma.:D
 

Endless

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I'm glad to hear that, Bsoats. In one of the articles I referenced, it said that the American Neurological Society is working on getting laws passed to ban boxing. They think it is that harmful.
 

ColmanMac

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I think it really does depend on how often you're gonna get punched in the head, my friend- compare it to constantly & violently just shaking your head & ask your Docs what they think (bet you've never heard em swear before!).
Col
 
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