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Chris Nowinski talks to Newsday about WWE receiving award for concussion work


  1. Huh, I thought Nowinski and WWE were on bad terms

  2. I think everybody's been on bad terms with them before- once they saw his point and started changing things, they were probably only too happy to grab onto whatever credibility & fame he was getting.

  3. Big Dick McGillicuttyOctober 23, 2013 at 4:43 AM

    "After the Benoit incident, WWE banned chair shots to the head -- the company in 2011 announced that Triple H and the Undertaker were fined for doing so at WrestleMania XXVII."


  4. They were, until someone realized that he was right.

  5. Big Dick McGillicuttyOctober 23, 2013 at 4:44 AM

    It's so fitting that a Harvard graduate who tried his hand at wrestling ended up still doing Harvard-y stuff.

    ...I have no joke to go with that.

  6. So, Mr. Malloy, it seems that the cat has been caught by the very person who was trying to catch him.

  7. Big Dick McGillicuttyOctober 23, 2013 at 6:56 AM

    How ironic.

  8. There was an interesting article in the Guardian the other day about concussions in rugby that quoted Nowinski.

    Weirdly it mentioned him as a former college football player and made no mention of his wrestling past.

    Wonder if that was Nowinski or the journalist downplaying his association to wrestling?

    But anyway, Nowinski's work is going to change pretty much any sport where heavy and repeated contact is the norm. And that is only a good thing.

  9. WWE is doing the same thing that the NFL is doing; they are controlling the message with regards to brain damage by using "concussions" instead of "collisions." Concussions are only a fraction of the problem. Collisions are the real issue. Any collision that causes the brain to jostle inside the head can cause minor amounts of damage (even if the head isn't struck). Accumulating this damage is what is causing CTE, which unfortunately doesn't show itself until later in life.

    By labeling the problem as merely a concussion problem, the NFL and WWE can say that they are fixing the problem by sitting athletes who are concussed. It does help, but it's not addressing the overall issue of collisions at all.

  10. You are probably right but, scientifically, we just don't have the data to support that. What we know: a disproportionately high number of football players and boxers* end up with CTE. What we don't know: whether the CTE is the result of "sub-concussive" blows, or undiagnosed concussions, or both. In all likelihood, every impact to the head contributes to the accumulation of damage, but it's too early in the game to say that, for example, 10 hits with force X are worse than one hit at force 10*X. We also don't know what the cutoff is to cause damage. To put it in simpler terms: You move your head every day - you probably swing it around quickly if you hear a loud noise across the room. It seems unlikely (but not impossible) that those cumulative everyday movements/"jostlings" are benign. So what level is the cutoff for dramatic enough movement to cause cumulative damage? The simple answer is that we don't know.

    All of that being said, you are absolutely right, the WWE and NFL are shifting the narrative to focus on the big impacts/"concussive" blows. Along the same lines as above, it's also too early to dismissive the smaller "subconcussive" impacts. (Non-scientific editorial: It seems likely that down the road the NFL/WWE viewpoint is almost certainly going to be considered wrong.)

    The important thing that is often lost in this is that there is no binary yes/no diagnosis of a concussion. Basically any impact or movement of your head that leads to a symptom can be defined as a concussion. So when you see Bryce Harper smack into the wall at full speed, get up and look visibly "woozy" he had a concussion. Regardless of what the team claims. It may not be as dramatic as a WR going over the middle and get lit the fuck up by a prowling linebacker, but it's still a concussion. The current rhetoric among good doctors is that there is no such thing as a "minor concussion" so all these symptoms ought to be taken very seriously. Promoting a dichotomous diagnosis of "concussion" or "no concussion" or even "mild concussion" undermines that.

    *There is enough evidence to say that probably all athletes involved in a sport that involves impacts to the head can be included in this group, but the preponderance of data are on football players and boxers so, scientifically speaking, it's not great to generalize beyond that.


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