Epidemiology of Muay Thai fight-related injuries

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Background: Muay Thai is a combat sport of Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. Currently, little is known about the injuries and risk factors for injuries among Muay Thai fighters. Gaining more insight into the nature and frequency of injury in this sport provides part of the overall sports injury picture, within the larger burden of injury as a public health issue. Generating this information is a critical first step toward the broader goal of improving the health and safety of Muay Thai fighters engaged in competition. Methods: This study is based upon a survey of 195 Muay Thai fighters. Participants were asked to complete a retrospective web survey on fight-related injuries. Regression analyses were conducted to determine whether injuries during sanctioned fights were related to factors such as fight experience, use of protective equipment, and injury history. Results: Participants were aged 18 to 47 years old (median 26), predominantly male (85.9%), and white (72.3%). Respondents were professional (n = 96, 49.2%) and amateur (n = 99, 50.8%). Fighters reported a mean fight experience of 15.8 fights. Of the 195 respondents, 108 (55.4%) reported sustaining an injury during the most recent fight. The primary body region injured was the extremities (58%) versus the head, with a lower amount of self-reported concussions (5.4%). Nearly 2/3 (66.7%) of all injured fighters reported that the injury did not interfere with the bout outcome. Nearly 25% reported they missed no training time as a result of the injury. Injuries were related to professional fighter status (OR = 2. 5, 95% CI = 1.4–4.5), fight experience (OR = 2.7, 95% CI = 1.5–4.9), weight class (OR = 0.923 heavy versus light, 95% CI = .86–.99), age (OR = 0.90 > 26 versus ≤26, 95% CI = .85–.95), use of protective equipment (OR = .46, 95% CI = .26–.82) and previous injury (OR = 1.81, 95% CI = .98–3.3). Lighter, younger, and more experienced fighters were at increased odds for injury within this sample. Conclusions: We identified a preliminary fight-related injury rate and identified fighter characteristics (experience level, protection level, and previous injury) associated with increased odds for fight-related injury outcome. While rigorous research into causality is required, these data provide plausible information that may be used to reduce injury outcomes among fighters.