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Concussion, CTE, and the Future of Sports with Dr. Chris Nowinski

In this episode of Life Beyond the Game, Joe Hawley talks with Dr. Chris Nowinski about the journey that brought him into the world of concussion and CTE research. They talk about the differences and confusion around concussion and CTE and what the science has been revealing over the last few years. They also dive into the NFL, and how big business and money is a resistant force in spreading this research and saving lives. 

Dr. Chris Nowinski’s Story

Dr. Chris Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation and a social entrepreneur leading a global conversation on concussions, CTE, and the future of sports. An All-Ivy Harvard football player, turned WWE professional wrestler, turned neuroscientist, he discovered the concussion crisis the hard way. A 2003 kick to the chin in a WWE match ended his career, causing post-concussion syndrome and sending him on a journey where he uncovered a public health conspiracy that continues to cost lives.

Chris wrote the investigative exposé Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis in 2006 and soon after founded the non-profit Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF), the world-famous Boston University (BU) CTE Center, where he serves as the Outreach, Recruitment, Education, and Public Policy Leader, and the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank. His journey has been profiled in media outlets like HBO Real Sports, ESPN Outside the Lines, and the New York Times, and he was the subject of the award-winning documentary Head Games: The Global Concussion Crisis by celebrated director Steve James.

Dr. Nowinski earned his doctorate in Behavioral Neuroscience from Boston University School of Medicine and has authored over 30 scientific publications. VICE Sports called Dr. Nowinski “the man most responsible for making CTE part of the national conversation,” and Sports Illustrated said, “It is Nowinski's figure which looms behind the doctors and the headlines and the debate roiling over sports' newfound commitment to minimizing head trauma.”

Dr. Chris Nowinski former WWE tured neurologist and CEO of the concussion legacy Foundation
Dr. Chris Nowinski, CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation and former WWE professional wrestler

Discussed in this episode:

  • Dr. Chris Nowinski’s journey in football and wrestling and the concussions he endured
  • How Dr. Chris got into CTE research based on his own experiences 
  • The difference between concussion and CTE 
  • The science of CTE and the recent discoveries that have been made
  • Why the game of American Football, specifically, is so dangerous for head injury
  • How the business and money of the NFL is making research and coverage harder 
  • Tools and practical steps for players who have experienced head trauma 

Connect with Dr. Chris Nowinski:

Twitter | @ChrisNowinski1

Instagram | @ConcussionFoundation

Facebook |@ConcussionFoundation

Website | ConcussionFoundation.org

Connect with Joe Hawley and The Härt Collective

Website | Joe Hawley

Instagram | @joe.hawley

Website | The Härt Collective

Instagram | @the.hart.collective