There is no safe blow to the head, especially for a child. —Bennet Omalu
Bennet Omalu’s bona fides derive from more than his post-mortem research on football players. He is also the only pathologist to ever be portrayed standing up to the NFL by Will Smith. In the public’s eyes, that makes Omalu the expert on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). So if you or your child engages in contact sports or other risky activities, a statement like the one above coming from Omalu is cause for alarm.
Since the movie Concussion’s release, CTE has settled into position as a recurring news item. The week before Super Bowl LI, families of fallen NFL football players gathered in Houston where the pre-Bowl media circus was just kicking into gear. Their press conference was more somber than others, remembering NFL players who had died with CTE and recognizing National CTE Awareness Day for the first time.
Sadly, CTE is definitively diagnosed only at autopsy, which leaves us a long way from being able to treat it. But we are trying. A $16 billion study, DIAGNOSE CTE, kicked off in 2016. The study aims to diagnose CTE while the victim is still living, opening the door for intervention and treatment.
A promising study published in the Journal of Translational Psychiatry last September used PET Scan technology and radioactive ligands to demonstrate tau protein accumulation. The study received a fair amount of play in the popular press, but the fact that it was actually a case study on only one former NFL player means there is a long way to go.
These are just examples of the news we can expect in the coming months and years. Research into the disorder is accelerating in unison with the public’s awareness of the damaging head trauma that occurs with certain sports.
As a practicing neurologist, you are the resource your community needs to filter and explain the information that will fill news feeds in the coming years. By providing context to the problem of CTE and the meaning of new research findings, you become an expert resource your community can rely on.
There are several ways you can fill this need:
Blog about CTE
This is a simple way for you to address any news items your patients and community members may come across. Each time a new study comes out or another athlete dies with CTE, this is an opportunity for you to put this information in context of the evidence for your readers.
There is no doubt that internet searches for CTE will continue to increase in the coming years, and consistently writing about the topic will generate traffic for your website. If your content offers value, it will reward those who find your site, providing a needed service.
Create a Video
Videos offer a great way to get your message out there while allowing viewers to get to know you a bit. Talk about CTE and what it means for local athletes. Create a new video each month to address anything new on the topic. Over time you will have a resource library for those who are looking for more information on the disease.
YouTube and other video hosting services offer great search engine benefits. They also allow you to embed the video directly into your website, which increases your website’s value as a resource.
Reach Out to Local Publications
Most towns and cities have print and online publications that promote local businesses. They include articles that view larger topics from a local perspective and they usually need writers. Offer to provide an article about CTE to one of these publications. This will help establish you as a local expert on the subject and build goodwill with local business at the same time.
There are any number of ways you can address this growing concern for your community. Reach out to local news and make yourself available for interviews when they need an expert for a segment. Start a podcast and discuss the latest research as well as prevention techniques with researchers and specialists. Create a downloadable PDF for athletes, parents and coaches.
There is no end to the ways you can address the topic. However you choose to approach it, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy will continue to be an important topic in neurology. By putting the latest news into the context of medical evidence you will provide a valued community service as well as establish yourself as the local, trusted expert. What better way to grow your practice than by providing a service your community needs?