VIRTUAL REALITY

Australian MMA fighters using Virtual Reality technology to combat concussions 


Aussie MMA fighters using Virtual Reality technology to help combat the devastating rise in concussions: ‘I want to remember my name when I’m older’

  • Fighters from Wollongong are first to use technology to manage concussions 
  • Company NeuroFlex uses a virtual reality headset to test brain activity
  • The technology is designed to stop fighters from returning to the ring early
  • Athletes Amena Hadaya and Colby Thicknesse have volunteered to test the tech

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

The management of head injuries injuries is currently under the spotlight in several major sporting codes – and is now being more closely monitored in combat sports.

Amena Hadaya, 24, is preparing 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 to test a new technology that aims to revolutionise the management of brain injuries.

Amena Hadaya (pictured), 24, is preparing 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 to test a new technology that aims to revolutionise the management of brain injuries

Amena Hadaya (pictured), 24, is preparing 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 to test a new technology that aims to revolutionise the management of brain injuries

Rising Wollongong star Colby Thicknesse (pictured), who has already suffered three concussions this year, is another fighter who has decided to volunteer to test the new tech

Rising Wollongong star Colby Thicknesse (pictured), who has already suffered three concussions this year, is another fighter who has decided to volunteer to test the new tech

Rising Wollongong star Colby Thicknesse (pictured), who has already suffered three concussions this year, is another fighter who has decided to volunteer to test the new tech

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

‘I get told this all the time by my mum, she’s a nurse.

‘You just have to take the correct precautions to avoid it later on affecting you and developing chronic illnesses.’

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

Users are then tested against this baseline following a head knock to establish when the brain has healed and if 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 come back from knee, hip and arm injuries - but there's not much you can do for the brain

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

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

‘I have suffered a few, so I need to make sure I’m ticking all the boxes and doing everything correctly, so I don’t come back too soon and suffer longer-term consequences,’ said the 23-year-old who may one day be competing in the UFC.

‘You can have knee injuries, hip injuries, arms, anything you can hurt you can normally come back from it, but if you have a bad brain injury there’s not a lot you can do about that.’

 MMA has boomed in popularity over the last 15 years and clinical neuropsychologist Jeff Rogers says that fighters using the headsets is a great way of managing head injuries and gathering data to protect future athletes.

 ‘We are just beginning to understand the effects of a single concussion, let alone the cumulative effects of four to six of these over a lifetime,’ he said.

MMA has boomed in popularity over the last 15 years and clinical neuropsychologist Jeff Rogers says that fighters using the headsets is a great way of managing head injuries and gathering data to protect future athletes

MMA has boomed in popularity over the last 15 years and clinical neuropsychologist Jeff Rogers says that fighters using the headsets is a great way of managing head injuries and gathering data to protect future athletes

MMA has boomed in popularity over the last 15 years and clinical neuropsychologist Jeff Rogers says that fighters using the headsets is a great way of managing head injuries and gathering data to protect future athletes

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

Concussed players at the World Cup in Qatar this year will also be using the NeuroFlex headsets as part of the most extensive set of protocols FIFA has ever deployed at a major Football tournament.



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