Dick's sets PACE for concussion prevention

PITTSBURGH — Dick's Sporting Goods announced that it has created a new program to help combat concussions in youth sports.

The company has partnered with imPACT, the most-widely used computerized evaluation system, to launch PACE, (Protecting Athletes through Concussion Education). Through PACE, up to one million young athletes across more than 3,300 middle and high schools nationwide will receive their first-year ImPACT test program and concussion education for free – making it the largest concussion baseline testing initiative ever created, according to Dick's Sporting Goods.

ImPACT begins with a 20-minute baseline test that is administered pre-season. If a concussion is suspected later, another post-injury test is administered by trained clinicians to assess the possible after-effects. The program evaluates multiple aspects of brain function including memory, processing speed, reaction time and post-concussive symptoms, allowing doctors to make safe return-to-play decisions and reducing the possibility of long-term neurological effects.

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, up to 3.8 million recreation- and sports-related concussions occur in the United States every year – with concussions in adolescent age groups accounting for the majority. 

Dick's Sporting Goods said it has a goal of funding screening for one million young athletes, and through the support of the public, now through Sept. 12, they will donate $1 to the PACE Program for every pair of athletic shoes purchased in any of its 449 U.S. stores or online at DicksSportingGoods.com. In addition, Dick's Sporting Goods has pledged an additional $1 donation for consumers who post about PACE on the Dick's Sporting Goods Facebook page, tweet about PACE with the #DSGPACE hashtag, or check-in to a Dick's Sporting Goods location on Facebook Places or Foursquare.

"Protecting the next generation of athletes is a cause we are dedicated to, and as young athlete concussions continue to rise, we want to be at the forefront for driving awareness, education, and screening," said Edward Stack, chairman and CEO of Dick's Sporting Goods. "The PACE Program brings together concussion education with state-of-the-art testing.   We are excited to partner with ImPACT and founders Drs. Joseph Maroon, Mark Lovell and Michael 'Micky' Collins to provide baseline testing for up to one million young athletes."

The company has enlisted former Pittsburgh football player Jerome Bettis, a sufferer of numerous concussions in his playing days, toserve as national spokesperson for the Dick's Sporting Goods PACE Program. He will participate in various marketing initiatives to support the campaign including in-store appearances, online videos, public relations and social media.

"In more than 20 years of playing football in high school, college and the pros, I unfortunately experienced a number of concussions," said Bettis.  "Every young athlete should have the opportunity to take a baseline concussion test, and through the PACE Program, up to one million youths will now have that chance."