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Concussion Study Looks for One Million Athletes

A Pittsburgh-based computerized neurocognitive assessment tool company is looking to put its product into the hands of coaches and trainers at 3,300 schools nation-wide with the help of Dick's Sporting Goods. ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) has produced a highly touted testing system that helps to evaluate how well an athlete has recovered from a concussion. The computer-based test will be administered to as many as one million high school and junior high athletes in an effort to get a base line of their cognitive skills.

"The computer takes you through a series of complicated cognitive tasks that are measuring reaction time in hundredths of seconds. It's measuring your accuracy with regard to your memory," said ImPACT CEO Dr. Mark Lovell. If one of those athletes suffers a concussion they will then be given the test again to see how well they are bouncing back.

"The biggest danger in concussion is that a lot of athletes go back too soon, and that's where the real damage is to the brain," said Lovell, "The brain needs time to heal and if it does not get it, it exposes the athlete to a great deal more danger."

Unlike a broken arm, it is often hard to se the symptoms of a concussion and often an athlete will lie about their symptoms in an effort to get back on the field in time for the next game. "It's hard to lie to the test," said Lovell.

Dick's Sporting Goods will donate $1 for every pair of shoes it sells and for every person who posts about PACE on the company's Facebook page, tweets with the hashtag #DSGPACE or checks in at a Dick's store on Facebook Places or Foursquare. Schools will get to use the software for one year for free.

Along with the software, the schools will be assisted in educating students, parents and coaches about the signs and symptoms of concussion as well as the dangers of not properly treating it.

Former Steeler running back Jerome Bettis will serve as the national spokesman for the effort. A special kickoff event will be held Tuesday at the Dick's in Robinson.