July 06, 2011

Just a Ding? Good overview of concussion issues in the NFL

Andrea Goetschius, one of my student colleagues at the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication, wrote a terrific case study called

"Just a Ding? The NFL Responds to Research on Football-Related Concussion" (summary & links; pdf)

It's a terrific overview of the concussion issues the NFL and its players have been facing for the last few years. It starts with the first cases of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) that neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, discovered during the autopsies of three former NFL players. It chronicles former WWE wrestler Chris Nowinski's interactions with the New York Times' Alan Schwarz, as well as his founding of the Sports Legacy Institute at Boston University. Throughout, Goetschius chronicles the NFL's response, ranging from the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) committee to the revamped Head, Neck and Spine Medical Committee.

There are also four pages of citations, which provide more information on all of these issues. I've read most of the articles Goetschius cites and she's done a great job of synthesizing all of them into a 9-page case study.

And the Arthur W. Page Society* agrees with me: they awarded Goetschius's case study the Grand Prize in its 2011 Corporate Communications Case Study Competition (all papers in this year's competition look interesting!). *The Arthur W. Page Society is "a professional association for senior public relations and corporate communications executives."

If you're interested in the topic of concussions and NFL players, this case study is worth a read.