Medical experts question ImPACT test’s ability to accurately assess head injuries

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Lane & Lane, a Chicago-based medical malpractice and personal injury law firm, posted a blog highlighting controversy surrounding concussion diagnosis and one of the common methods with which head injuries are assessed. Experts on brain and spinal cord injuries, particularly Loyola Medical Center neuropsychologist Christopher Randolph, Ph. D., are questioning the reliability of ImPACT, the most-used program for detecting concussion symptoms after head injuries.

By Illinois law, high school athletes who get concussions cannot play sports until a doctor permits them to participate. In turn, they must take the ImPACT test to check for lingering concussion signs. Critics, concerned with student safety, claim the error rates give athletes a false sense of security and lead athletes to return to sports when they should not because they are still at risk of further injury. On the other hand, the ImPACT test can give false positives resulting in the opposite outcome, athletes refraining from playing sports when they are actually well enough to participate.

The creator of ImPACT insists that it is not a cure-all test and should not be used as a sole identifier when diagnosing concussions. Instead, the creator advises that the ImPACT test be used in conjunction with seasoned medical expert opinions.