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Penguins Foundation and UPMC Enhance Heads UP Program for 2016

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins


PITTSBURGH -- The Penguins Foundation and UPMC Sports Medicine will celebrate an unprecedented five years for the Heads UP Program, an innovative concussion awareness and testing program for young athletes. Registration will begin June 13. Since 2011, the Heads UP Program has tested over 17,000 young athletes.

The 2016 program runs from June 13 through July 29. Free neurocognitive baseline testing will be available on a first-come, first served basis for 5,000 athletes ages 10-14. In addition, the first 3,000 athletes will receive a balance disc with exercise protocol to improve balance and strengthen core stability

For younger athletes 7 to 9 years of age, a limited amount of the pediatric version of the baseline test is available in July, and will be provided only at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry and the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side of Pittsburgh.

Total registration is limited, with a maximum of 5,000 athletes to be tested overall. Registration is available immediately at www.upmc.com/BaselineTesting.

Community College of Allegheny County will once again serve as host to testing at its Boyce, North, South and West Hills Center campuses along with the Community College of Beaver County and the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex and UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

The entire testing process takes about one hour. Parents will meet with UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion staff to learn about Heads UP Pittsburgh. Licensed athletic trainers from UPMC Sports Medicine will supervise the program and testing. On the day of testing, participants must not be suffering from any concussion-like symptoms.

The Penguins Foundation and UPMC Sports Medicine originally teamed up in 2011 to create Heads UP Pittsburgh, the first program of its kind to address the growing amount of concussions in young athletes. The program has expanded each year to serve more youth and include a wider spectrum of sports. Today the programs tests athletes in every major sport, cheerleading, dance, and many other physical activities.

Since Heads UP Pittsburgh’s creation, over 50,000 parents, coaches, referees and teachers have been educated and 20,000 young athletes have been baseline tested from 30 different sports.

Starting in 2013, in an unprecedented move to provide precautions and exercises that could reduce concussions, 4,000 participants in Heads UP Pittsburgh have received a free neck-strengthening kit detailing precautions and exercises that could reduce concussions with focused exercises for neck strengthening and concussion reduction.

In 2014, the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation started to address other injuries in youth activities, and have provided over 2,000 participants received a free flexibility kit. The kits focus on cardiovascular, strengthening and flexibility exercise. Experts believe such a device will help to limit the number of youth-athlete related injuries.

Over the past year, Heads UP Pittsburgh expanded its reach even further to include additional locations and the introduction of a pediatric version of the program. The Penguins Foundation continues to add tools for the safety and development of our youth in sports and other activities. Recent studies focus on the importance of core strength and stability. With that in mind, the first 3,000 youth tested this year will receive a balance disc with exercise protocol.

Heads UP Pittsburgh, the first program of its kind and a blueprint copied by other NHL organizations and sports leagues, now embarks on its sixth year of supporting young athletes by continuing to provide precautions and exercises that can ultimately reduce concussions and other sports injuries.

For more information, please visit the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation website at www.pittsburghpenguinsfoundation.org, or call the Foundation at 412.255.1952.

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