‘ImPACT’ of Dr. Maroon’s and Colleagues’ Writings


In his 2007 article in ESPN The Magazine (linked in the previous post in this series), Peter Keating wrote extensively about the start-up company ImPACT Applications, whose concussion-management software was by then being used by 30 of the 32 National Football League teams.

Two of ImPACT’s co-founders, Drs. Joseph Maroon and Mark Lovell of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, were members of the NFL’s Committee on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.

Christopher Randolph, professor of neurology at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, and former team neuropsychologist for the Chicago Bears, told Keating, “It is a major conflict of interest, scientifically irresponsible.”

Other key points:

– Lovell and a third Pitt Med Center colleague and ImPACT stakeholder, Michael Collins, were co-authors of all 19 of the publications listed in the “Reliability and Validity” section of the ImPACT website.

– In 2005 Loyola’s Randolph published a study in Journal of Athletic Training, which found that only one peer-reviewed article involving a prospective controlled study with ImPACT had been published.

– Another then unpublished study by Stephen Broglio, professor of kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign concluded that ImPACT and two other tested computerized systems were “less than optimal.”

– Without disclosing their financial interests, Maroon and Collins published laudatory comments on a 2006 Neurosurgery article about ImPACT that was co-authored by Lovell and three other members of the NFL concussion committee.

– Lovell declined to be interviewed for ESPN’s investigative series Outside the Lines.

NEXT: Explosive rumors about how NFL players “game” the ImPACT system to hasten return to play following concussions.

Irv Muchnick

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March 2011

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