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Chris Nowinski: Coaches Control The Culture Around Concussions

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Christopher Nowinski (@ChrisNowinski1) is the co-founder and executive director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation (formerly Sports Legacy Institute), a non-profit organization dedicated to solving the sports concussion crisis, and a co-founder and investigator and the Boston University CTE Center, where he is also a PhD candidate in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Nowinski also serves on the NFL Players Association Mackey-White TBI Research Committee, the Ivy League Concussion Committee, and as a consultant to Major League Lacrosse. A former Harvard football player and WWE professional wrestler, Nowinski was forced to retire from a series of concussions in 2003. His challenging recovery from post-concussion syndrome led him to write the critically-acclaimed book Head Games in an effort to educate parents, coaches, and children about this previously hidden public health issue. The book later inspired an award-winning documentary of the same name in 2012.

Chris calls on coaches to create a team culture that recognizes the dangers of concussion and encourages athletes to self-report. He asks that coaches talk to athletes about concussions, describe the symptoms and assure youth athletes that it is OK to remove themselves from competition if they suspect they have suffered a concussion.

Coaches who glorify playing through a concussions or who stigmatize players and question their toughness for self-reporting are doing players a disservice and endangering athletes' health, well-being and futures.