Sunday 11 December 2016

'This is not stage fighting, it is cock fighting in a cage'- Dr Maurice Gueret on MMA

MMA violence is a long way from Big Daddy versus Giant Haystacks, says Maurice Gueret, who won't be cageside

Published 02/05/2016 | 02:30

Dr Maurice Gueret

When you grow up in a sibling-infested house, an interest in combat sports becomes almost second nature. Dublin was multi-channel-TV land in the 1970s, and our weekly dose of fight training was delivered every Saturday afternoon on ITV's World of Sport.

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The breakfast room doubled up nicely as a walled wrestling ring, as a sturdy elder sister and I practised backbreakers, Boston crabs, leg drops and nelson holds. Our tutors were characters we only knew from our television screen. There was the masked Kendo Nagasaki, Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks and a host of other professional nasties. We didn't realise or even care that so much of Saturday wrestling was fixed and faked. I'm not even sure if we were warned not to try this on loved ones at home. Certainly nobody cared to ask how many doctors were at ringside.

Fast forward 40 years, and the obese and hairy leotard-wearers introduced by Dickie Davies are no more. Today's children are being served up a strange diet they call mixed martial arts. This is not stage fighting, it is cock fighting in a cage. I do feel sorry for the kids of today who might be expected to copy their stars in the way their parents did before. The recent death of a fighter in Dublin is no isolated tragedy. MMA has been greatly troubled in its relatively short life by steroid abuse, painkiller addiction, suicides, homicides and brain injuries. The fun of combat has been extracted and replaced by naked aggression. I don't think it matters whether you have three or 300 doctors cageside or what their advanced resuscitation techniques are like. This is a fight game that is storing up plenty of trouble for the future. The real damage of mixed martial arts may not emerge until the brains of its participants are studied in pathology laboratories 40 years from now. You cannot stop grown-up boy adults doing what comes naturally to some of them. But you sure as hell can stop adorning this peculiar form of violence with glamour, and promoting it in any fashion. Surely GAA and rugby pitch-violence are more than enough fisticuffs for a sporting nation.

It was a naughty Oscar Wilde who declared that a man's face is his autobiography but a woman's face is her work of fiction. Wilde first concocted this sexist observation on a trip to the United States, which may have earned him the pardon of ladies living elsewhere. But it is interesting to note that, five generations on, 90pc of all cosmetic surgery procedures are still performed on women. In April, the UK's General Medical Council published a new code of rules for the doctors who perform 50,000 nips and tucks each year. They also apply to British medics who deal in the syringe-happy world of Botox and fillers. The rules come into force in June, and need to be adopted here too before charlatans cross the Irish sea to a less regulated territory. 'Two for one' offers are banned, as is the offering of cosmetic procedures as prizes on Facebook or anywhere else. Doctors need to personally manage the consent forms and not entrust the paperwork to a sales force or underlings. Doctors cannot prescribe injectable treatments without physically examining the patient - video, phone or web consultations are not acceptable. Doctors are not allowed to tell patients that their procedures are risk free. All consultations must be well documented, and the final outcomes need to be logged. Patients need to be provided with contact details in the event of complications or emergencies. You might think such things would be second nature, but the experience of many patients when things go wrong in fly-by-night cosmetic surgery has not been positive. This worldwide industry needs serious treatment, not airbrushing.

A reader has asked me to write a few words about POTS - an acronym for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. This is a relatively new diagnosis, which first came to my attention 10 years ago when it struck one of the Australian children's entertainers known as The Wiggles. It was a major disappointment in our household that Greg Wiggle (aka Greg Page; the original yellow one) couldn't make the concert in Dublin. In fact, the illness caused him to drop out of the group entirely. The name of the illness describes it well. It is a group of symptoms that occur when the sufferer stands up from a reclining condition. The heart rate suddenly speeds up, with resulting dizziness. There may be heart thumping, breathlessness, blurred vision, fainting or fatigue. POTS is due to a problem with the autonomic nervous system. When it's working well, it regulates blood flow according to your posture. In POTS patients, it doesn't do as it should. Many patients do recover spontaneously, but it may take a few debilitating years. This condition has possibly been around for longer than we realise, but without a name. Medical historians in the United States believe it may once have been known as Civil War Syndrome and was cited as a condition that prevented some young men from being conscripted into the army. A few international centres such as Minnesota's Mayo Clinic have set up POTS treatment centres, but to date there has been little input from the Irish health service towards a dedicated service for patients here, though there are a few specialists who have experience in diagnosing the condition. The new National Rare Disease Office at the Mater Hospital is worth a call for those who have been diagnosed, and there is also a Facebook page set up by patients called Irish Dysautonomia Awareness.

Dr Maurice Gueret is editor of the 'Irish Medical Directory'

drmauricegueret.com

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