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“HEADS UP Pittsburgh”

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins Foundation and UPMC Sports Medicine are expanding their concussion awareness program to include a free neck-strengthening kit to the first 2,000 participants during the new testing period.

This year’s program begins on June 17th and continues until August 2nd. Free Neurocognitive Baseline Testing will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for athletes ages 10 to 14 at four Community College of Allegheny County campus locations –Boyce, North, South and the West Hills Center. Testing also is available at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine on the South Side.

In an unprecedented move to provide precautions and exercises that could reduce concussions, the first 2,000 participants during that time will also receive a free neck-strengthening kit. Experts believe this device will help to cut down the number of youth-athlete concussions. Those participants that signup at UPMC Center for Sports Medicine on the South Side and the CCAC North campus will also be eligible to have their neck strength tested and be part of an ongoing UPMC research project.

Registration is limited, but up to 5,000 athletes will be tested. Up to 40 athletes can be tested at the same time at each site. Registration is available at

“We want to make the game safer for all young athletes. As a possible answer, we added the neck strengthening kit. Recently published research indicates that there is a direct correlation with improved neck strength and the reduction of concussions,” said Dave Soltesz, president of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation. “The Penguins Foundation will continue to fund and provide the free baseline testing and education, with the goal of reducing the incidence of concussion. To that end, the Foundation, in concert with UPMC, is funding and implementing valuable research projects with our athletes”.

The entire process takes about one hour and parents will meet with UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion staff to learn about Heads UP Pittsburgh. Certified athletic trainers from UPMC Sports Medicine will supervise the program and testing. On the day of testing, participants MUST be at least 10 years old and not currently suffering from a concussion or have any concussion like symptoms.

Heads UP Pittsburgh, the first program of its kind and a blueprint copied by a few other NHL organizations, originally began in 2011 with baseline testing and parental educational programs for youth hockey players only. In 2012, the Penguins Foundation expanded the program to include athletes of all sports ages 10 to 14.

For more information, please visit the Penguins Foundation website at

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