For two years I have been saying that a key to understanding the “concussion crisis” in football is the money trail behind a number of the doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who moonlight as National Football League consultants, anti-aging supplement hucksters, World Wrestling Entertainment front men, and/or owners of a company called ImPACT Applications, Inc. (Some of them are performance-enhancing drug pushers, as well — a related story.)
At least one mainstream journalist gets it. In this season’s flavor of whither-football? coverage, ESPN’s Peter Keating bypassed the consensus smackdowns of helmet manufacturers and the like, and got to the heart of the matter: the conflicts of interest, scientific illogic, and marketing brilliance of ImPACT — UPMC’s concussion management system and the NFL’s medically endorsed fig leaf to the stars.
I have already linked to Keating’s excellent August 26 piece “Concussion test may not be panacea.” Nice understated headline, that. Here’s the link again: http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/8297794/neuropsychological-testing-concussions-not-panacea.
Now The Onion is running parodies of ImPACT, which has used millions of dollars in federal funds to subsidize the development of a for-profit hocus-pocus computer software sold to high school football programs in search of the answer to the essential problem:
Can Johnny tell us how many fingers we’re holding up after his brain gets sloshed from one wall of his skull to the other? If no, sit him out a while longer and pat yourself on the back for your vigilance on behalf of his health and welfare. If yes, send him back out there. But remember, there are no guarantees! If something bad happens next week or down the road, then you just didn’t know how to interpret our test and it’s all your fault.
The blog of the Strom Law Firm in South Carolina has a good executive summary of the Keating article. See “ImPACT Concussion Testing: Does It Work?”, http://stromlaw.com/6432/impact-concussion-testing-does-it-work/#infform_id0_h987.1666660000001_w273.166666.
“With all the worried parents, it’s no surprise that concussions have become big business in the world of football,” the blog writer states.
The January 2012 ebook UPMC: Concussion Scandal Ground Zero is available on Amazon Kindle at http://amzn.to/A0Hq2g, or as a plain PDF file by sending $1.49 via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org.