twitter facebook google plus pinterest linkedin

Analyzing Ronda Rousey’s Health

Ronda Rousey kicked

Last Saturday, the unthinkable happened in UFC when the undefeated juggernaut and pop culture icon Ronda Rousey lost her first match.  The title of UFC bantamweight now belongs to 34 year-old Holly Holm, thanks to a winning kick to Rousey’s head that sent her opponent to the floor.  After her loss, an unconscious Rousey was immediately sent to the hospital.  The day after the match, Rousey took to Instagram to assure her fans that she’s doing fine, and intends to be back.  While Rousey hardly seems like the person to give up, you can’t help but wonder what’s happened to her body after taking such a blow.  I recently came across an article where several experts discussed what happened, and what it could mean for Rousey.

How hard was she hit?

It’s hard to say how hard Rousey actually got hit, since there isn’t any sort of meter on the end of Holm’s foot.  Yet according to the American Association of Neurological Association, the force of a professional boxer’s fist is equivalent to being hit with a 13-pound bowling ball at 20 miles per hour.  While you’d assume that a kick to the head would have more force than a punch, that might not be true.  Cynthia Bir, PhD, director of the Center for Trauma, Violence and Injury Prevention at USC, pointed out that roundhouse kicks like the one Holm performed tend to require a lot of technique to perform properly, so there’s potential for there to be less force than an arm strike.  It’s also possible that most of Rousey’s trauma happened after the fall.  Bir pointed out that the kick hit Rousey more in the neck than anywhere else, and when she hit the mat, footage revealed that she hit it hard, and then got several “ground-and-pound” hits to the head afterwards.

Does she have a concussion?

Since concussions are defined as a “temporary loss of normal cognitive function”, Rousey’s TKO definitely qualifies.  However, diagnosing concussions is a difficult process; the force it takes to cause a concussion varies from person to person.  Making diagnosis is even tougher, since symptoms are often very subtle, and concussion sufferers don’t always lose consciousness.

When (if ever) will Rousey be able to come back?

Making a “big comeback” is defined on an individual basis, much like concussions.  Kristen Dams-O’Connor, the co-director of the Brain Injury Center at Mount Sinai, points out that recovery for Rousey might start out with just returning to the gym and doing cardiovascular exercise.  And if she continues to not have any symptoms, then she could return to full-on contact.  Official guidelines generally recommend staying completely rested, both mentally and physically, for a full 24 hours to give the body enough time to adequately heal.

What are the long-term effects of a knockout?

The majority of people who sustain one head injury notice their symptoms heal within a few days, but it varies from person to person.  Roughly 15% of people will have symptoms for weeks, and in some cases years.  These symptoms range from cognitive to physical changes.