BIBA Introduce Hand Held Scanners to detect Brain bleeds – by Michael O’Neill

The British & Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA) are set to introduce hand held Infra-Scanners, that can detect Brain bleeds, at events sanctioned by themselves in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.   On announcing the introduction of Infra-Scanners, that will be available ringside at events sanctioned by them, BIBA Vice President Gianluca Di Caro said.

We are extremely proud to be the first to introduce Infra-Scanners at events in the United Kingdom and Ireland, as we whole heartedly believe having them ringside will significantly prevent further tragedies within our sport.”

Before expanding further and explain what had led to the decision to introduce the use of Infra-Scanners at BIBA events, Gio emphasised that some recent fights has speeded up their decision:

“Following two major head injury incidents last year, one that resulted in the death of Mike Towell, even though neither were on events sanctioned by ourselves, the BIBA board had decided to actively seek solutions regarding improving the way that injuries such as these can be detected as quickly as possible. The first move we made was to appoint renowned forensic sports scientist Professor Michael Graham PhD to our Ringside Medical Officer & Medical Advisory Board.

Professor Graham led the team that produced the internationally published papers “Direct Hits to the Head During Amateur Boxing is Associated With a Rise in Serum Biomarkers For Brain Injury” & “Should an Increase in Cerebral Neurochemicals Following Head Kicks in Karate Influence Return to Play?”

Professor Graham and his esteemed team are currently researching the short-term and long-term effects of head injuries in Rugby as well as preparing, in conjunction with ourselves and a prestigious UK University, a long term research project to assess cognitive function following brain trauma.

Around the time of the appointment of Professor Graham, our CMO, Dr. Louise Eccles, proposed that we should investigate obtaining Infra-Scanners, as the use of these would massively assist in detecting problems such as a bleed on the brain quickly, especially as there is only a limited amount of time to assess the location of such an injury”.

Clearly the BIBA Board had also been listening to the strong opinions of those boxers and their families – and supporters too – who had demanded from Governments and from sporting bodies urgent action following a spate of deaths and serious injuries in several sports.

Gio di Caro explains:

“Following Louise’s advice, I contacted the manufacturers and am extremely proud to say that the initial trial unit will arrive later this month, hopefully in time for the 26th February event in Bradford, that features two ten round International contests.

We have initially ordered two Infra-Scanners which will be operated by Professor Graham and Dr Eccles at our events, and are aiming to order a further eight units over the coming twelve months, so that every BIBA Ringside Doctor will have an Infra-Scanner available by 2018.

Both the appointment of Professor Graham and the introduction of Infra-Scanners, are just two pro-active decisions made by ourselves with regard to Boxer Health & Safety, there are more to come, as Professor Graham and another of our Ringside Medical Officer & Medical Advisory Board, Dr Mark Xuereb have also proposed the introduction of further safety measures, one of which is the introduction of Cognitive Testing, which will come into force very soon.

We believe that Boxer Health & Safety is paramount, as such we will continue researching procedures that can assist us provide the very best medical evaluations possible.”

The British Boxing Board of Control does not recognise BIBA .

The BBBofC told BBC Sport it “does not recognise” BIBA – known as the Malta Boxing Commission until 2016 – and that it will continue to do its own research and use its own medical practices.

Speaking later to the British boxing media ,BIBA vice-president Gianluca Di Caro told BBC Sport: “It’s not about us and the fighters we work with versus fighters with other organisations. It is about all the fighters.

“If there is a fighter anywhere, who has been suffering with headaches, he needs to know we will go to him and do a scan. Sometimes we will just have to move quickly to ensure that any boxer can be helped.

“We will have one scanner by 22 February, another is on order and our aim is to have 10. I will raise the sponsorship to do that.”

Following Mike Towell’s death some six months ago, and other significant injuries in the Pro sport,there has been a national demand for better equipment being made available at all major fights than can detect brain damage.

The late Mike Towell’s girlfriend, Chloe Ross posted on Facebook: “I’m glad to be finally seeing something good coming from what happened to Michael. It shouldn’t take someone’s life for these things to be used but if it saves someone else’s life then that can only be a good thing.”

In other media comment, Sky News’ Health & Science Correspondent, Thomas Moore, highlighted the benefits of the use of the Infra-Scanners, that can detect brain bleeds with an accuracy of 90%, often before any symptoms such as headaches or confusion become apparent, following the death of Mike Towell.

In the article Mr. Moore stated “Compulsory brain imaging using Infra-Scanners could be “massive” for boxers who risk death from professional competition.”

In our view it is something that the AIBA should also be looking at introducing at the Olympic Games, World Championships and initially other major International competitions. Other professional bodies too. A small price to pay if death and serious brain bleeds can be greatly reduced in near future.

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