ROBINSON TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Concussions can make you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus.
“I didn’t lose consciousness, but I still wasn’t all there,” former Steeler Jerome Bettis describes about how he felt with his concussions. “You go back and you look at your career and you say, ‘Wow. I had quite a few of those moments.’ And I didn’t recognize that was a concussion.”
Repeated concussions can lead to lasting brain damage.
To raise awareness, Dick’s Sporting Goods, the Impact Program, and Bettis are teaming up to offer free baseline tests to young athletes. The goal is to test a million kids. This is done by signing up your school.
“This is the largest baseline testing initiative ever,” says Mickey Collins, PhD of the Impact Program. “The same care we give to the Steelers, the kids are going to be getting it as well.”
The kids who showed up at the Dick’s in Robinson are doing a three-minute demo. A full 20-minute test will give doctors information about a young athlete’s brain before a concussion. Then if a concussion should occur, where the brain gets rattled inside the skull with a bump to the head, the test can be repeated and compared to this baseline.
“It had us memorize words and designs,” says football player Mitchell Barton of Canonsburg.
“It wasn’t challenging as I thought, but it was okay,” admits football player Joseph Sader of Pittsburgh.
The program is being funded by Dicks — a dollar for every check-in on Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare and a dollar for every pair of shoes sold through September 12th.
“Generally $500 per school to do this,” says Dr. Collins.
“The key is to educate our young athletes so that they know that, ‘Hey, if I get a concussion, I need to report it,’” urges Bettis. “It’s not a cool thing to go out there a little dizzy, a little groggy, because … it makes you tough. It makes you stupid is what it makes you.”