“A Step aHead” Hockey Symposium Saturday at the United Center
by Scott King
On Saturday, from 9:00 AM to 2:30 PM at the United Center Atrium, A Step aHead will be holding a free event in conjunction with The Next Step Speaker Series which will include local and national experts on topics such as “Sleep: Why It’s Essential for Your Athletic Performance and Health”, “Concussions in Youth Hockey” and “Appearance & Performance Enhancing Drugs: The Pressure to Perform” that impact the health and safety of youth hockey players. Be sure to register if you plan on attending.
Blackhawks strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman will also speak on “preventative performance strength and conditioning”.
“I’ve handled the concussions for the Blackhawks for the last 14, 15 years,” Dr. Elizabeth Pieroth, a board certified Neuropsychologist and the Associate Director of NorthShore University HealthSystem’s Sports Concussion Program, said.
“I know that they’re an amazing, generous organization, very focused on doing right in the community. I approached them and said, if you’re a football player, a wrestler, a soccer player, you get neurocognitive testing in your school. But if you’re a club athlete like a hockey player, you don’t.”
The Blackhawks helped Dr. Pieroth develop a program that gives free neurocognitive testing to hockey players and places an emphasis on education.
“It’s really important that coaches, parents, players, everybody involved understand concussions, understand how to prevent concussions, understand how to deal with them when they happen, all those sort of things,” Dr. Pieroth said.
Dr. Pieroth said over the years, the program has tested somewhere in between 1,200 to 1,400 kids annually.
“What I really wanted to do the last couple years, is I really wanted to broaden the program because it’s not just concussions,” she said. “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of other health and safety issues in youth sports. I didn’t want it just to be about the concussions.”
The Blackhawks helped Dr. Pieroth expand the program. The Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois surveyed parents regarding what topics they wanted to hear about. Dr. Pieroth reached out to experts on the topics that will be speaking at the event on Saturday.
“I really feel like this is such a gift from the Chicago Blackhawks,” she said. “I really, honestly don’t know of any other NHL team that does more for the community of youth hockey players.”
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