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Boxing: Latest news from the Aspetar 'Orofacial Trauma in Boxing' Conference in Doha
by Michael O'Neill
October 17, 2015
Photos: AIBA

(OCT 17)  The subject of ‘Headguards’ or ‘No Headguards’ for boxers has long been a controversial subject in the AIBA boxing family and here on WBAN we have brought you the views of both the AIBA and those of leading opponents including Olivet College coach and boxing injuries expert Dr.Loren Partlo.

As we have also reported the 2015 AIBA World Elite (Male) Championships have been taking place in Qatar and this update comes from the capital, Doha where a major conference has just ended, on the subject of head injuries in boxing organised by Aspetar.

The World Boxing Championships concluded Thursday in Doha, and the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) President, Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu, expressed his appreciation for all of the effort and services provided by Aspetar. Dr. Wu stated that AIBA had selected Aspetar as the medical partner for the Championship due to its skilled staff, capabilities, and advanced facilities, all of which make the hospital a preferred destination for medical care of participants. He made these remarks during his participation in the Orofacial Trauma in Boxing conference, an event held by Aspetar in conjunction with the Championship.

Some of the world’s best doctors, both local and international, participated in the conference, discussing topics such as facial and dental injuries in boxing, oral health and sports performance, surgical management of mandibular fractures, oral injury prevention, and the effects of nutrition on oral health and sport performance. WBAN understands that representatives from the International Olympic Committee’s Medical Commission were also present.

On the importance of this conference, and its role in exchanging and sharing knowledge between experts, Dr. Mohammed Alsaey, Director of Sports Dentistry at Aspetar, said: “Aspetar is a preferred destination for clubs and sports stars from around the world, and this motivates us to continually develop our sports medicine. This conference comes as part of our efforts to exchange expertise with some of the world’s most renowned doctors and specialists. Furthermore, the event highlights the leading role of Aspetar in sports medicine, in the region and the world.” He also revealed that the Emergency Dental Kit was used for the first time during this Championship.

The Emergency Dental Kit is an important tool for providing orofacial protection to athletes immediately, prior to reaching the hospital, and contributes to expediting treatment and recovery. The kit components include materials that will maintain the teeth in case of an incident during competitions or training, as long as the athlete is also seen by a specialist within 4 hours.

Dr. Abdelhamid Khadri, chairman of AIBA Medical Commission, indicated that boxers no longer use a head guard in men’s championships, adding that this decision was made two years ago following long-term studies and research with boxers. The latest on this topic was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine: “Our mission is to protect athletes and provide them with safety tools. Studies have shown that boxers who used the head guard registered a higher rate of concussion than those who did not use it, and therefore AIBA have decided to suspend the use of the head guard in men’s championships.”

On his participation in the conference, Dr. Khadri added: “Aspetar has a leading role in sports medicine, and organising this event reflects its position in this sector. The conference gathered doctors and specialists from around the world under one roof, and this helps us to create the sports medicine framework that doctors need in all sports, regardless of their different views.”

Dr. Richard Knowlton, Team Dentist for the US Olympic Field Hockey Team, and past President of the Academy for Sports Dentistry in the US, said: “We are in great need of such medical conferences that gather together some of the best sports medicine doctors.” He added: “My presentation highlighted one of the most important elements for the safety of athletes, which is the use of the mouthguard. There is a lack of awareness and knowledge in the use of the guard, and 90% of athletes use it incorrectly, which can result in injuries. This conference gave me the opportunity to highlight the importance of, and the correct way to use, the mouthguard for athletes, not only in boxing, but also in other sports.”

Dr. Knowlton indicated that the ultimate objective is to provide protection and ensure the safety of all athletes, whether in competitions or training, adding that the efforts are focused on preventing sports injuries by using the mouthguard in the right way. This guard is considered one of the best preventative tools for reducing the risk of orofacial injuries.

It is also worth mentioning that Aspetar was the official, and exclusive, medical partner of the AIBA World Championship 2015. The hospital provided a number of medical services to the event, including an on-site team of doctors and experts who provided immediate care to athletes, as well as ambulances and a mobile clinic.

As always we cordially invite the AIBA’s President Dr Ching-Kuo Wu or indeed their AIBA Medical Commission Chairman, Dr.Abdelhamid Khadri to share with WBAN and our boxers and coaches their own findings from that study of some 2 years from which Dr. Wu and Dr.Khadri base their comments here:

“The safety of boxers is our top priority,” said Dr Wu. “There was a perception that headguards improved that, but our research shows concussions have actually dropped since their removal in 2013. The fact that there have been zero instances of concussion and just five cuts during the 2015 World Championships proves that we are on the right path.”

‘The AIBA Medical Commission have studied more than 11,000 bouts all over the world, and that analysis, along with workshops for referees and coaches, has continued in Doha’ . “Prevention is always better than treatment, and AIBA is one of the first boxing associations to have an integrated injury prevention program. We are taking a holistic approach to modify the boxers’ behaviour and encourage a more upright stance to minimise the risks to health,” said Dr Khadri, Chairman of the AIBA Medical Commission.

Finally, another key note speech came from GB Boxing’s Dr Mike Loosemore and we include here a link to his conference presentation though would point out that is just short of 40 minutes long so beware of potential high ISP costs if you do not have unlimited broadband/internet coverage. It is though worth checking out. Video

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