A Head of the Game was founded by Jeannine Donato, RN. Jeannine is a graduate of Villanova University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. For a good portion of her nursing career, she worked in the Neurosurgery/Head Trauma unit of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Jeannine and her husband Ted, have four children: Ryan 21, Jack 19, Nolan 18 and Madelyn 14.
Jeannine founded A Head of the Game after her youngest son, Nolan, suffered a concussion during a hockey game. Like many parents of more than one child, she and Ted, a thirteen year NHL veteran and current coach of Harvard Crimson Hockey, often split sports duties on the weekends. More often than not, the Donato's are rushing from rink to rink to catch all of the kids' hockey games. One weekend in 2010, Jeannine and Ted received the kind of call that all parents fear. Nolan, their youngest son, had been hit from behind into the boards. They were told that he was in an ambulance and on his way to Children's Hospital in Boston for evaluation. Rushing to Children's Hospital, Jeannine's thoughts were even more horrific than most parent's might have been due to her time spent working in the Head Trauma unit.
When they finally reached Nolan's side, he seemed a bit confused as to where he was and he also complained of a headache. He was diagnosed with a concussion. Nolan would recover but would need to be off the ice for a while. In the ER doctors asked Jeannine if Nolan had a baseline test done using ImPACT™. He had not. Jeannine had never heard of it. Ted, however, was aware of baseline testing and specifically, ImPACT™. Ted explained to Jeannine and the doctors that the training staff at Harvard give the test to their players prior to the start of the season. If a player is suspected to have a concussion during the season, then the test is repeated and the scores are compared. The Harvard training staff uses the test as a vital tool to help determine when an athlete is ready to get back on the ice and back into the game.
Once Jeannine knew about baseline testing with ImPACT™, she knew that this test should be offered to athletes of all ages. She began to research how to make this test available for younger athletes. Jeannine found that most high schools administer the test in the athlete's Freshman year. Based on Nolan's experience, she knew that was too long to wait.
Jeannine founded A Head of the Game in October of 2010. The mission of A Head of the Game is to make ImPACT™ available to the athletes who are very susceptible to concussions. Jeannine has seen first hand the dangers of concussions and returning to play to soon. A baseline test is the key to making sure that athletes return to play only when it is safe to do so.
Jeannine is an active Board Member at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, MA, promoting concussion awareness to coaches, parents, referees and athletes.