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By Dr. Charles Bohle & Bohle Family Dentistry
November 18, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: knock out   concussions   fight  

How Ronda Rousey Was Knock Out by Holly Holm

This is an article found in the OsteoTalk Newletter of November 18, 2015.  See the Original Article Here

The Physics Behind Ronda Rousey’s Knock Out by Holly HolmBefore her dramatic upset last Saturday, we saw Ronda Rousey knock out opponent after opponent in mere seconds, but why do jaw punches always seem to drop victims to the ground like a sack of potatoes?

As it turns out, physics, more than physiology, is the deciding factor. A knockout is usually the result of a concussion, where the force of a blow moves the brain around inside the skull. If this occurs with enough energy, a temporary shutdown occurs as the brain attempts to divert energy toward repairing the damage. Repeated occurrence of concussion is highly dangerous and has a demonstrable impact on mental health, so Rousey’s opponents are probably thankful her winning strategy is the arm-bar.

How it works: The jaw, being the point on the skull furthest from the spinal column, acts like a lever, snapping the head around until the musculature stops it abruptly. The additional energy gained from the lever combined with the sudden snap is what causes the brain motion resulting in concussion.

However, there is another mechanism by which a punch from a UFC fighter might turn out the lights, and it was employed to outstanding effect by Holly Holm. It may appear to be a weak hit that barely touches the opponent’s chin, but it's a KO. What happened?

In this case, the carotid sinus reflex may be at play. It might have looked like a blow to the chin, but a punch hitting the side of the neck can trigger a nervous pathway that temporarily causes a rapid decrease in heart rate, essentially causing the opponent to faint. This too can be highly dangerous, even stopping the heart if medical attention is not received, so it’s no surprise Rousey was transported to a hospital as a precaution.

So what does all this mean for oral health? Repeated trauma to the jaw and teeth can cause resorption of the root structure and surrounding bone, especially in cases of avulsion, in which a tooth is knocked whole from its socket. A 2015 study found a significant relationship between dental trauma and later resorption, occurring most often in cases of intrusive luxation. Professional athletes like Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm use fitted mouth guards which are often successful in preventing permanent damage from orofacial injury.

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