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Penguins Foundation and UPMC Expand Heads UP Program for 2015

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

PITTSBURGH – The Penguins Foundation and UPMC Sports Medicine are further expanding their Heads UP Pittsburgh concussion awareness program to include additional locations, introduction of the Pediatric version and a free neck-strength kit to the first 1,000 participants in the new testing period beginning June 15.

This year’s program runs from June 15 to July 31. Free neurocognitive baseline testing will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for 5,000 athletes ages 10-14. For athlete’s 7 to 9 years of age, a limited amount of the pediatric version of the baseline test is available and provided only at the Center for Sports Medicine location. Athletes ages 15 or above can also test throughout the summer for a minimal fee.

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 Center for Sports Medicine on the South Side. This year the Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV located in Grove City PA will serve as a host to those athletes from northwestern Pennsylvania and an additional location in Youngstown will be announced.

Last year, in an unprecedented move to provide precautions and exercises that could reduce concussions, the first 1,000 participants in Heads UP Pittsburgh received a free neck-strengthening kit and the first 2,000 received a free flexibility 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 regions young athletes.”

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 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 four years, it has produced more than 13,000 baseline tests and educated 35,000 people.

For more information, please visit the Penguins Foundation website at www.pittsburghpenguinsfoundation.org.

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