An analysis of concussion comics


Comics are an important art form that involve images/drawings, often combined with text. They can deliver both meaningful and enjoyable or provocative content on important topics. Concussion is one such topic – this brain injury can lead to debilitating physiological, psychological, and social consequences, and has become a hot topic in the public eye. In particular, concussions have been highlighted with respect to professional sport. However, this injury occurs in all levels of sport and is also a public health problem in other contexts of life (e.g., in transportation and in the workplace). The aim of this study is to explore the themes related to concussions that are reflected in this form of popular media. Forty-three publicly available comics were identified using the search terms "Concussion + comic" and "Sport concussion + comic" in the Google search engine. A content analysis was used to analyze these comics. The results provide an important look at the types of stereotypes, misinformation, exaggerations, correct information, and emphases that are perpetuated through this creative medium. This information allows us to recognize the messaging that is available for public consumption, and could add to our understanding of this source of knowledge. The most common themes that arose from this analysis include fear (of injury or reinjury), use of fear tactics, minimizing the gravity of the injury, the commodification of athletes, and the culture of sport. A critical discussion provides considerations for the intentional production and consumption of comics on concussions and beyond.