(Hi everyone! Again, I have fallen into a blogging hiatus, which I apologize for and wish I had more time to contribute to “The Concussion Blog.” I’m currently working as an intern for the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Athletics in the Office of Media Relations covering Pitt’s baseball program throughout the season. This has taken away a lot of my time with regards to writing, but I still vocalize my opinions on the concussion topic on Twitter often.
This post actually stems from an assignment I was given in my Intro to Journalism & Nonfiction course at Pitt, where I was to interview an individual and write a profile piece on them. I immediately thought of Dustin Fink, the site’s founder, when briefed on this project, and focused heavily on the conception of “The Concussion Blog.” I hope you enjoy it.)
Head Games: Dustin Fink’s influence on contact sports
“What people fail to understand is that a concussion is a brain injury, and we are now finding out that it has lasting effects. This could easily be resolved or even avoided if proper knowledge and management is applied. Heck, when someone tears an ACL, it’s devastating, yet there is a common understanding of the injury and the recovery process. I believe that if we were to just get on the same page with information and management, we would be one step closer to resolving the concussion crisis.”
As a certified athletic trainer, Dustin Fink regularly witnesses the concussion injury in high school athletics. When he returns home from work, Fink spends the rest of the day running The Concussion Blog—an online resource for information on sports-related concussions and an outlet for athletes to have a voice in the matter at hand. The site’s goal is to raise awareness of the injury’s entailments and to encourage all educational efforts regarding concussions in contact sports.
“The blog was developed because of my personal experience with concussions—my injuries and the concussions I see in my job,” Fink explains. “I felt that there was a lack of understanding. The message was clear but inconsistent from one person to the next, especially within the media and medical community.”
The Concussion Blog gets about one thousand readers each day. The typical audience for Fink’s website includes medical professionals, parents, and the press. Fink explains that the site has “evolved from just a news and information gathering blog to a possible ideation spot for policy to point out the issues that remain with concussions.” His desire to influence such policy comes largely from his own dealings with the injury.
Whether it was in elementary school, his college years, or throughout his adult life, Fink became all too familiar with traumatic brain injury. He has sustained at nearly one dozen concussions in his lifetime, all which led to the onset of long-term, debilitating symptoms. He became anti-social and had difficulty coping with the physical and mental obstacles presented by repetitive head trauma. He developed depression, too. It became so unbearable that he contemplated
taking selfish a action by ending what he thought was “pain,” but failed to follow through with such a decision.
But with the help of a strong support system in his family and friends, Fink has found serenity in educating his self and others on the concussion injury. The Concussion Blog is his contribution to the sports community, and it many occasions, it has been deemed a ‘must-read’ for all athletes involved in contact sports.
Fink’s approach in advocating sports-related concussion awareness and education is best summarized in his own words. They are words that speak volumes about The Concussion Blog and its intended purpose, and they extend far beyond holding the scope of this issue on high school sports only.
“Educate and communicate,” he says. “One thing I know is that I do not want another soul to have to go through what I went through. It was tough. No one needs to see their dreams shattered.”