Background. Boxing is commonly associated with injury in the head region. However, injury to the head region encapsulates a wide range of injury types, ranging from facial lacerations to concussion. It is therefore unclear whether a high incidence of injury to the head region is also reflective of a high incidence of concussions or cerebral injury. Additionally, given the historic focus on head injury concussions in boxing, the proportions of injury that are associated with the upper extremity, lower extremity and trunk are unclear.
Aim. The objective of this review was to assess the proportion of injuries that occur in each anatomical location during either boxing competition or training, as reported in observational studies performed in both professional and amateur boxers.
Method. A systematic review was performed according to preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analysis (PRISMA) guidelines of all observational studies of either professional or amateur boxing athletes that reported the proportion of injury by anatomical location as a result of either boxing competition or training. The PubMed database was systematically searched.
Results. Fifteen eligible articles were identified, describing 5.020 injuries. Four studies were prospective cohort trials and the remainder were cross-sectional studies. There was substantial between-study variability in the proportion of injuries reported across all regions. The head region appeared to be injured most often (range: 9 – 96%), followed by the upper extremity (range: 2 – 55%). However, concussion accounted for far fewer injuries than the head region overall.
Conclusion. Studies report substantial variability regarding the proportion of injuries sustained across different regions of the body in boxing. This variability may have arisen for several reasons, including a lack of consistency in respect of injury definitions, boxing conditions (type of headgear worn), and whether the athletes were amateur or professional.
boxing, sports injury, head injury, concussion
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