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When a boxer is knocked out, he gets a concussion. (Jupiterimages/Getty Images/Polka Dot RF)
When a boxer is knocked out, he gets a concussion. (Jupiterimages/Getty Images/Polka Dot RF)

COLLECTED WISDOM

A knockout question about pugilism Add to ...

This week, Collected Wisdom steps into the boxing ring to begin a new career in professional pugilism. Our first opponent is that guy in the opposite corner gnawing on a leg of raw beef. Hmm, maybe chartered accountancy would have been a better choice.

The question

When a boxer is knocked out, has he suffered a concussion? George Cuthbertson of Burlington, Ont., wants to know.

The answer

In a word, yes. But here is the full explanation from Jamie Kissick, a physician at the Ottawa Sport Medicine Centre who has a special interest in concussions.

“A concussion is a disturbance in brain function caused by direct or indirect force to the head,” he writes.

But as it is a functional rather than a structural injury (such as bleeding within the brain), a concussion cannot be seen on conventional imaging such as a CT scan or an MRI.

He says a concussion results in a variety of non-specific signs and/or symptoms. “These can be physical (headache, dizziness, trouble with bright lights); cognitive (memory difficulty, disorientation, concentration problems); and emotional (anxiety, sadness, irritability). Sleep dysfunction also commonly occurs.”

Loss of consciousness as a result of direct or indirect force to the head is indeed a sign of concussion, Dr. Kissick writes, although most concussions do not involve losing consciousness.

The boxer who has been knocked out has had a concussion, but he may have also sustained a structural brain injury.

“Generally speaking,” Dr. Kissick says, “a brief loss of consciousness is less likely to be associated with this more severe injury, but the boxer must be investigated by a physician and followed carefully for any deterioration in neurologic status.”

Further notice

Here is some more food for thought on a food question we mentioned last week. It was this: If you could eat only one type of food (if you were on a desert island, say), which food would keep you alive the longest?

Well, it seems that no natural source of nutrition fills the bill, according to Angelo Tremblay, a researcher funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in Ottawa.

Dr. Tremblay says certain industrially formulated foods – such as Ensure products – provide everything required to sustain life by minimizing the risk of nutritional deficiencies over time. However, “in terms of food in its natural form,” he writes, “to the best knowledge of experts, there is no known food containing everything required to avoid all deficiencies over time.”

Personally, if CW could eat only one type of food, we would opt for bacon sandwiches. They probably wouldn’t keep us alive that long, but what the heck.

Help wanted

Here is a question that appeared recently in the online version of CW but not in the newspaper. So, for all you print readers, Heather MacAndrew of Victoria wants to know why planets are spherical. Are there are no square planets? she asks.

Shelley Nickerson of Lincoln, N.B., tells us that she has always kept the heat turned off in a spare room in her house during winter and also kept the door shut, thinking she was saving energy. But is she right? Is she actually spending more by trying to heat those cold walls inside the house?

A gasoline-powered vehicle uses an alternator system that keeps the vehicle’s battery powered, writes George Surdykowski of Toronto. So why can’t electric cars charge themselves as they run?

 

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