October 20, 2021 - Podcast

Episode 192—Studying long-term effects of concussion, and how to keep best employees engaged

As football season hits full stride this fall, researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine are continuing their work as part of the world’s most comprehensive concussion study. In a new phase for the NCAA-U.S. Department of Defense Concussion Assessment, Research and Education, or CARE, Consortium, the researchers will examine long-term impacts of head injuries. This phase of the research will investigate effects of head impact exposure, concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury in NCAA student-athletes and those in military service for up to 10 years or more after initial exposure or injury. The study will examine the prevalence and characteristics of long-term brain health problems as well as early indications in biomarkers such as neuroimaging and blood that may point toward long-term health issues. Overall, the CARE consortium is focused on developing an array of interventions and strategies for at-risk athletes and service members to mitigate possible long-term effects of concussion or head impacts. Dr. Thomas McAllister, a professor of psychiatry with IU School of Medicine and leader of the IU CARE research team, says the consortium’s research is not only helping change our understanding and treatment of traumatic brain injury, but also yielding valuable information for youth sports participants and their families.

In other news, while U.S. workers are known for pursuing the “American dream” that success can be achieved through hard work, an IU business management expert says businesses should be careful about loading their best employees with more and more work after a job well done. Assigning more responsibility and hard work after a task is accomplished may not motivate productive workers to stay with an organization, says Charlotte Westerhaus-Renfrow, a professor in the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI. Workers thrive when they have sufficient autonomy, she says. A lack of opportunity for self-improvement or personal and professional development at work can demotivate employees, Westerhaus-Renfrow says. To drive genuine employee engagement, managers should set tasks for employees that are neither too easy nor too challenging -- what the writer Daniel Pink calls “Goldilocks tasks,” or assignments that are not “too hot or too cold,” she says. Creating a sense of purpose is also crucial, says Westerhaus-Renfrow. Communicating a business’s mission and goals to all employees before loading on additional tasks is key to creating purpose in employees’ work. With a defined purpose and Goldilocks assignments, Westerhaus-Renfrow says, employees may find greater motivation to complete more projects and remain in an organization for years to come.