PITTSBURGH – The Penguins Foundation and UPMC Sports Medicine are further expanding their Heads UP Pittsburgh concussion awareness program to include a free flexibility kit to the first 2,000 participants in the new testing period beginning June 16.
This year’s program runs from June 16 to August 1. Free neurocognitive baseline testing will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for athletes ages 10-14. For athletes under 10 years of age, a Pediatric version of the test is available at minimum cost.
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 UPMC Center for Sports Medicine on the South Side. Community College of Beaver County joins the initiative this summer as a new site for testing and education.
Last year, in an unprecedented move to provide precautions and exercises that could reduce concussions, the first 2,000 participants in Heads UP Pittsburgh received a free neck-strengthening kit. A limited number will be available for participants this year as well. Experts believe such a device will help to limit the number of youth-athlete concussions.
“Informed parents, coaches, referees and players are the key to make sports safer for all young athletes,” said Dave Soltesz, President of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation. “The Penguins Foundation and UPMC Sports Medicine continue to expand the reach of the Heads UP Pittsburgh program to other sports and in concert with UPMC, continue to fund and implement valuable research projects for the region’s young athletes.”
The entire testing 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 of age 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 other NHL organizations, began in 2011 with baseline testing and parental educational programs for youth hockey players. In 2012, the Penguins Foundation expanded the program to include athletes of all sports ages 10 to 14. In its first three years, it has produced more than 11,000 baseline tests and educated 24,000 people.
For more information, please visit the Penguins Foundation website at www.pittsburghpenguinsfoundation.org.