Australian MMA fighters use virtual reality technology to fight concussions

Australian MMA fighters use VR tech to help fight devastating rise in concussions: ‘I want to remember my name when I’m older’

  • Wollongong fighters are the first to use technology to manage concussions
  • NeuroFlex company uses virtual reality headset to test brain activity
  • The technology is designed to prevent fighters from returning to the ring sooner
  • Athletes Amena Hadaya and Colby Thicknesse volunteered to test the technology

Australian MMA fighters from Wollongong are the first to use new technology using virtual reality to manage concussions.

The management of traumatic brain injury is currently in the spotlight in several major sporting codes – and is now coming under closer scrutiny in combat sports.

Amena Hadaya, 24, is about to make her pro debut in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and has decided to volunteer to be one of the first in her sport to test a new technology that aims to revolutionize the grip burden of brain damage.

Amena Hadaya (pictured), 24, is about to make her professional mixed martial arts (MMA) debut and has decided to volunteer to be one of the first in her sport to test out a new technology that aims to revolutionize brain injury management

Amena Hadaya (pictured), 24, is about to make her professional mixed martial arts (MMA) debut and has decided to volunteer to be one of the first in her sport to test out a new technology that aims to revolutionize brain injury management

Rising Wollongong star Colby Thicknesse (pictured), who has suffered three concussions so far this year, is another fighter who has decided to volunteer to test out the new technology.

Rising Wollongong star Colby Thicknesse (pictured), who has suffered three concussions so far this year, is another fighter who has decided to volunteer to test out the new technology.

“Obviously this (MMA) is going to affect us later on when we’re older,” she told ABC.

“My mom tells me all the time, she’s a nurse.

“You just need to take the right precautions to prevent it from affecting you later and developing chronic diseases.”

NeuroFlex, a Canadian-Australian company, has created a virtual reality headset that tracks eye and head movements to establish a baseline of participants’ brain health.

Users are then tested against this baseline after a blow to the head to establish when the brain has healed and whether it is safe to return to competition.

Rising Wollongong star Colby Thicknesse, who has already suffered three concussions this year, is another fighter who has decided to volunteer to test the new technology.

Thicknesse says you can recover from knee, hip and arm injuries - but there's not much you can do for the brain

Thicknesse says you can recover from knee, hip and arm injuries – but there’s not much you can do for the brain

“I’ve suffered a few, so I have to make sure I tick all the boxes and do everything right, so that I don’t come back too soon and suffer longer-term consequences,” said the 23-year-old who could one day compete in the UFC.

“You can have knee injuries, hip injuries, arm injuries, whatever you can hurt, you can normally come back from that, but if you have a serious brain injury, there’s not much you can do about it. .”

MMA has exploded in popularity over the past 15 years and clinical neuropsychologist Jeff Rogers says fighters using the helmets are a great way to manage head injuries and collect data to protect future athletes.

“We are only just beginning to understand the effects of a single concussion, let alone the cumulative effects of four to six of them over a lifetime,” he said.

MMA has exploded in popularity over the past 15 years and clinical neuropsychologist Jeff Rogers says fighters using the helmets are a great way to manage head injuries and collect data to protect future athletes.

MMA has exploded in popularity over the past 15 years and clinical neuropsychologist Jeff Rogers says fighters using the helmets are a great way to manage head injuries and collect data to protect future athletes.

‘[We] are really excited to be part of the process to start accumulating some really good solid evidence…to start guiding some of these professional bodies and professional codes.

Concussed players at the World Cup in Qatar this year will also use NeuroFlex helmets as part of the most comprehensive set of protocols FIFA has ever deployed at a major football tournament.

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