Convulsing in boxing: What is it? (Video)

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Many of us have seen a fighter get knocked down and start shaking uncontrollably soon thereafter.

It may be his arms, legs, one side of the body or his entire body.

For example, in the movie Rocky IV, Apollo Creed convulses while on the canvas. It also happened live during a Showtime broadcast in the 1990s between Simon Brown and Vincent Pettway.

Level of seriousness
Although they are appear traumatic, they are "usually" quite harmless. Nevertheless, such an episode should never be taken lightly because there's always a possibility the fighter may have sustained a serious injury.

What are convulsions?
Convulsions are caused by a variety of reasons and one certainly doesn't have to be a boxer, mixed martial artist or NFL football player to experience them.

This medical condition is marked by uncontrollable muscle spasms. The muscles quickly contract and relax repeatedly thus causing rapid shaking movements.

In boxing, convulsions are caused by an electric shock to the brain. i.e. a head injury.

Convulsions, regardless of how they are caused, typically last anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes and, usually, the longer the duration the more serious the condition. If they last for more than 5 minutes following a knockout, consider the situation a medical emergency.

Also, when someone has multiple episodes but fails to awaken between them, the situation is likely critical.

How to treat someone convulsing as a direct result of trauma from a fight
Trained medical staff should be present for all amateur and professional boxing and MMA fights. If they are not, someone is breaking the law.

If someone goes into convulsions while sparring or as result of a non-sports related altercation, there are several things you can do help the victim.

  1. Seek emergency medical attention immediately 
  2. Don't panic. Remember, it "may" not be as serious as it looks
  3. Make sure the person is lying down (to prevent them from falling)
  4. Clear the area in order to prevent additional injury (remove sharp, dangerous objects)
  5. Cushion their head (with your hand or a soft object)
  6. Remove or loosen any tight clothing
  7. If the person vomits, poistion him/her on their side to prevent inhaling the vomit into the lungs.
  8. The convulsions should stop after a minute or two on their own, but if they do not stop after a few minutes seek emergency medical help immediately if you failed to do Step 1.
  9. Even if the person seems fine after a 30 second episode, a medical examination and/or closely monitoring them in the subsequent days and weeks woud be wise. 
(Most episodes are similar to this as the young man appears to recover quickly)
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