Contact sports, by their very nature, almost certainly involve repeated blows to the head, face and neck, as well as possibility of spinal cord injury. There are a wide array of consequences to this which range in severity and outcome, including acute brain injuries such as brain bleeds, as well as concussion with cognitive side-effects and what has famously become known as "punch drunk syndrome". There are also now established links between neurological injuries and the later development of psychiatric and mental health issues, as well as the development of neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson's disease, motor neuron disease and dementia.
Irrespective of brain injury, there is also a higher rate of depression and suicidality in working age men, with a particularly high rate in athletes.
These are all difficulties which are best supported by the involvement of a Clinical Sports Neuropsychologist. Whilst boxers and participants of other contact sports may have medical investigations such as MRI brain scans to indicate good brain health, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to suggest that the most sensitive and early way of detecting changes to the brain, is via a neuropsychological assessment, which detect brain changes often before MRI scans show any abnormalities. These assessments can lead to formulation of treatment plans and rehabilitation for cognitive skills, as well as informing return-to-play decisions, so that an athlete has the most accurate information to hand.
In the United States, contact sports regulatory bodies, most notably the National Football League, has implemented mandatory annual neuropsychological assessments of all athletes competing in play, in order to assess and monitor their cognitive functioning over time. It is an approach that is becoming increasingly vital, yet unfortunately, in the United Kingdom, the legislation is drastically behind. Despite overwhelming evidence that having a Neuropsychologist as part of an athletes' team is a vital piece of the jigsaw, there is little recognition of this in UK practice, as it stands.
The Sports Neuropsychology Clinic provides this vital missing piece. Dr Mawbey has experience of working with athletes across sport, but has a particular interest in working with boxing professionals, leading to a specialist Boxing Neuropsychology Clinic.
Please visit the Sports Neuropsychology Clinic for more information.
Dr Mawbey works with all athletes, irrespective of their chosen sport. She does have a specialist interest in the role of Neuropsychology in boxing, and has longstanding affiliations in the boxing world and a unique insight into the sport. Dr Mawbey is passionate about promoting good psychological and neuropschological well-being in all contact sports, including boxing. She is able to support boxers and athletes in the following ways:
Improving psychological well-being.
Ensuring monitoring of cognitive and neuropsychological functioning over time.
Providing support, advice, consultation and assessment, tailored therapy and rehabilitation programmes around the effects of injury.
Providing teaching to teams regarding psychological and neuropsychological well-being and the impact of this on performance.
Dr Mawbey is the only Consultant Sports Neuropsychologist in the United Kingdom recognised by the International Sports Neuropsychology Society. She works with promoters, trainers and boxers, as well as other athletes and their teams, to provide annual comprehensive neuropsychological assessment, regular screening, post fight assessment, psychological support and cognitive rehabilitation. Her work within boxing is complimented by a unique insight and familiarity with boxing and professionals in the sport.
Dr Mawbey hopes to continue to promote and pioneer the use of Neuropsychology in British Boxing and advocates for boxers, their families and their teams by providing comprehensive, expert care. In order to promote this work, Dr Mawbey provides free consultation and advice to boxers and local gyms, trainers and professionals. She also offers one-off complimentary teaching and seminar sessions to gyms locally and to regulatory bodies within sport, to promote neuropsychological and psychological care.
Dr Mawbey identifies that the aim of the Sports Neuropsychology Clinic is:
...to provide accessible, impartial, non-judgemental specialist psychoeducation, consultation and information regarding assessment, neurorehabilitation and psychological intervention to our athletes, their teams and professional sporting bodies in order to safeguard and advocate for our sporting professionals - whilst facilitating the pursuit of their aspirations in their chosen sporting fields, in order to promote sustained health and well-being across their lifetimes...