Dewig ascends to role in the NFL

A graduate of Waynesburg University, Hayden Giuliani Dewig, Ph. D., was recently appointed as an observer to the National Football League (NFL) Head, Neck and Spine Committee. As an athlete herself, Dewig always knew she wanted to work with athletes. 

“I fell in love with the profession because I was an athlete,” Dewig said. “I really appreciate the hands-on experience the Waynesburg Athletic Training program gave me.” 

According to a news release at the Waynesburg University website, Dewig graduated from the Athletic Training Program at Waynesburg in 2015. She then went on to The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill to receive her master’s degree in exercise science in 2017 and a Ph.D. in human movement science in 2022. 

“I knew I wanted to get more into the research aspect so that is why I got into exercise science,” Dewig said.

According to the West Virginia University medicine website, Dewig is a research scientist at the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) Concussion & Brain Injury Center. 

As an observer, Dewig is tasked with research initiatives to protect the neurological health of the players. 

“My job is to read into injuries to come up with research study designs for injury prevention. The NFL was never really on my radar until my friend suggested I be appointed,” Dewig said.

The NFL has been a part of some recent controversy due to former players posthumously being diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which according to the American Brain Foundation is a neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated trauma to the head. Symptoms of CTE can include behavioral problems, mood problems and problems with thinking. In February of 2023, the Boston University CTE Center found CTE in 345 out of 376 brains of former NFL players. Although CTE hasn’t shown to affect the play of the players, the push for the NFL to make its game safer comes from some of the unspeakable actions that players have done after their playing careers that have been linked to CTE. 

“We want the health of the athletes on and off the field to be the best it can be,” said Dewig. 

As an observer for the Head, Neck and Spine committee of the NFL, Dewig said her plans are to research plans to prevent not just head injuries, but all injuries that occur playing football so players can have a healthy life after their playing career has ended.