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Penguins Offer “Heads Up Pittsburgh” Baseline Concussion Testing

From the Penguins:

The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and UPMC Sports Medicine are teaming up on a first-of-its-kind initiative – “Heads Up Pittsburgh” – to offer free baseline concussion testing and educational programs to youth hockey players in the Pittsburgh region.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) also are playing key roles in this unique program to enhance the safety of local youth hockey through concussion education and awareness among players and their families.

Free testing will be available to youth players in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League (PIHL) and Pittsburgh Amateur Hockey League (PAHL), as well as others registered locally through USA Hockey programs. “Heads Up Pittsburgh” is being funded by the Penguins Foundation.

The tests will be conducted starting May 1 at The UPMC Sports Medicine Center on the South Side. An expanded schedule of testing will be available starting in June at any of five Community College of Allegheny County locations – Allegheny, Boyce, North and South campuses and West Hills Center. Up to 20 players can be tested at the same time. Players will be emailed a password by USA Hockey which will enable them to pre-register for testing at http://www.upmc.com/hockeytesting


“This is the first major initiative of the new Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and we are very proud that it focuses on the health, safety and education of thousands of local youth hockey players,” said Dave Soltesz, president of the Foundation.

“We held a dry-land training program for youth hockey with UPMC Sports Medicine back in October and began discussing the possibility of a concussion-specific program at that time. It’s a testament to UPMC’s expertise and commitment to the youth of our region that everything has come together so quickly. We’ll be able to begin this program in May and have thousands of players tested heading into the next hockey season.”

The UPMC Sports Concussion Program, a credentialed ImPACT testing partner, will use a 30-minute test that evaluates and documents multiple aspects of neurocognitive functioning—including memory, brain processing speed, reaction time, post-concussive symptoms and an injury-documentation system. All NHL players undergo such a test. The baseline test is then used for a comparison if a player suffers a concussion and to help inform return to play decisions made by health care professionals.

“UPMC Sports Medicine is very excited to expand its relationship with the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation to offer baseline concussion testing to the hockey players of western Pennsylvania.  Combining the expertise of these organizations to improve the safety of our youth hockey players is an initiative we are proud to be a part of,” commented Dr. Brian F. Hagen, UPMC Sports Medicine.

“This time of year, about 20 percent of our concussion clinic patients are youth hockey players – both boys and girls,” said Dr. Micky Collins, of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. “I applaud the Penguins Foundation and the CDC for establishing this program with us.”

Soltesz said the program will be focused on the pee wee, bantam and midget levels of youth hockey, in addition to high school hockey, because those players are involved in body-checking. “This represents 6,000 players in those age groups in western Pennsylvania, and our goal is to test all of them,” Soltesz said.

“CCAC is proud to expand our service to the community with the Penguins Foundation and UPMC as part of this important initiative,” said Alex Johnson, CCAC president. “The ‘Heads Up Pittsburgh’ program will enable young athletes to receive this advanced screening at convenient locations throughout the Allegheny County.”

While players are being tested, their parents will meet with UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program staff to learn about “Heads Up Pittsburgh” and receive educational materials provided by the CDC.

The goal is to offer a comprehensive program to help get concussion information into the hands of coaches, referees, parents and school and health-care professionals who are on the front line to help identify and respond appropriately to concussions among young athletes.

Filed in: Pittsburgh Penguins, | The Confluence | Permalink
  Tags: nhl-hockey, pittsburgh+penguins



That’s good stuff, nice to see the initiative coming from Pittsburgh.

Posted by NathanBC on 04/05/11 at 04:05 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

HEADS UP PITTSBURGH!  You never know when you might run into Matt Cooke at the grocery store.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 04/05/11 at 04:20 PM ET


Concussions from blows to the chin/jaw, like the one Crosby received can be prevented and minimized, particurly in those with defects in the jaw cartilage structure or “Glass Jaw”. According to published study accepted for presentation at the 08 Zurich Concussion Conference, the same standard used by the new NFL protocol, evaluating for this diagnosable condition is crucial. Retuning a player without evaluating for this diagnosable defect in the jaw is very dangerous. Nowinski states in an 08 CNN interview, I got kicked in the chin and everything turned orange. Not all concussions originate from the chin area, but when they clearly do, this action is warranted. Common mouth guards do not medically correct, only an orthotic medical procedure can. Both the NFL and NHL have been presented this information, yet no action has been taken. Unlike the military, who has moved forward with a research initiative, resulting in an invitation to the 2011 Congressional Brain Injury Day, the only mouth guard company invited. A major gap in care exists in oral protection that is not being addressed. The Capitals system, Hershey Bears fitted all their players in 09, no mangames missed, they year prior, 147.
Attached are files documenting a medical procedure now being used in the NFL, NHL and NBA. Many high profile athletes have benefited from this corrective procedure. This evaluation protocol identifies imbalances that may exist between the two temporal mandibular joints, much like when a person has one leg longer than the other, a splint is made for the shoe to help balance the joints in the hips. We do the same for the jaw joints. New published data shows a reduction in minor events and concussion in those with jaw related concussion history. Tmjoint trauma has a myriad of symptoms once injured, after following Crosby’s story, it sounds as if he would be a candidate for fitting.




Study link, peer reviewed by a Harvard MGH specialist.


Posted by Steve from Boston on 04/10/11 at 01:31 PM ET

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Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.

Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.

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