PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and UPMC Sports Medicine are once again teaming up to offer the Heads UP Pittsburgh program, an innovative concussion awareness and baseline testing initiative for young athletes in the Pittsburgh region.
The 2018 testing program for ages 10 and up begins June 11, and June 18 for ages 7-9. Testing will end the week of July 30. Free neurocognitive baseline testing will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for 4,500 athletes ages 7-14. The first 1,000 participants in the 10-14 age group will receive a neck strengthening kit.
Registration is now open, and we advise interested participants to register early as available dates and locations fill up very quickly. To register, parents should visit www.upmc.com/baselinetesting.
This is the seventh year of this one-of-kind program. Since 2011, the Heads UP Program has tested over 20,000 young folks. The program has expanded each year to serve more youth and include a wider spectrum of sports. Today, the program tests athletes in every major sport, cheerleading, dance, and many other physical activities.
For younger athletes 7 to 9 years of age, a limited amount (625) of the pediatric version of the free neurocognitive baseline test is available. The Pediatric version 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 5,125 athletes to be tested overall. Registration is available immediately at www.upmc.com/baselinetesting. This year, there are seven (7) testing sites. Community College of Allegheny County will once again serve as host at its Boyce, North, South and West Hills Center campuses along with the Community College of Beaver County, the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex and UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. Additional testing sites may be announced at a later date.
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 symptoms of a concussion, or have a suspected injury at the time of establishing their baseline.
About Heads UP Pittsburgh 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.
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 25 different sports or activities.
Starting in 2013, in an unprecedented move to provide precautions and exercises that could reduce concussions, 4,000 participants in Heads UP Pittsburgh 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 Penguins Foundation started to address other injuries in youth activities, and have provided over 2,000 participants 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.
In 2015, discussions began with UPMC on improving fitness in our testing group. Recent studies focus on the importance of core strength and stability. With that in mind, the first 3,000 youth in 2015 received a balance disc with exercise protocol.
In 2016, 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 continued to add tools for the safety and development of our youth in sports and other activities.
In 2017, the Penguins Foundation provided 3,000 youth with 9” Pilates balls to support our efforts of improving core strength, agility and fitness.
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.
About the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation: Founded in 2010 the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation is the 501c3 philanthropic hand of the 5X Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. With the belief that “Kids Are the Future,” the Penguins Foundation focuses its efforts on making an impact on the lives of the littlest fans of the Penguins team and organization. Through programs related to the Penguins Foundation’s pillars of playing, growing, helping and learning, the Foundation has been able to make countless assists to the community in just a few short seasons including an overall contribution of $30 million to charitable causes since 2010. For more information, visit: www.pittsburghpenguinsfoundation.org