Graduation Date

5-2022

Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Primary Major

Nursing

Program Director

Andrea Boyle, PhD, FNAP

Thesis Advisor

Patricia Harris, PhD, RN

Abstract

The National Football League (NFL) is a billion-dollar entertainment industry that values itself on the physical and gritty sport of football. Even though these athletes are revered for their physical prowess and durability, at some point in their professional football careers these players are likely to sustain some variation of head injury—if not multiple. Each of the 22 players on the gridiron must physically wear out their matchup with tackles, stiff arms, bullrushes, rip moves, and any illegal hits the referee may not be able to see. The repeated blows these players sustain over the course of their career often causes a condition known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE causes brain degeneration which can impede mental, emotional, and physical function. This type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is responsible for many venerable, community-serving NFL players to murder, abuse, and self-harm, which is how the enigma of CTE was initially discovered and studied. Furthermore, CTE is neither curable nor detectable over the lifespan, and is only discoverable during autopsies. The CTE scare has prompted numerous NFL players to end their careers prematurely to prevent the acceleration of CTE, and to hopefully prevent the afore-mentioned negative outcomes. Through a review of the literature and a proposal for further study, the goal of this thesis is to find out techniques professional football players--both active and retired--can employ to reduce risks for CTE.

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