Care at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

Our concussion experts have experience evaluating and treating concussions in children and athletes of all ages.

Testing

There are several ways to evaluate concussions. We look at a patient’s history as well as their symptoms.

  • Event history - we ask questions about exactly what happened before, during and after a head injury.
  • Imaging - we may use neuroimaging, such as a CAT scan or MRI, to rule out more serious brain injuries. These tests, however, do not show the effects of a concussion, and generally are not ordered.

Treatment and services

We work closely with many health care professionals to make a care plan for concussion patients. We work with other specialists within Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center including Neurology, Neurosurgery, Neural and Behavioral Sciences, Orthopaedics (including sports medicine) and Rehabilitation (including physical, occupational, visual, and speech therapies), Pediatrics and Surgery (including trauma services) as needed. We additionally make referrals to specialists within the community and assist families to find proper treatment close to home.

Locations

Penn State Bone and Joint Institute
30 Hope Drive Entrance B, Suite 2400
Hershey, PA 17033
    
Penn State Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
1135 Old West Chocolate Ave #101
Hummelstown, PA 17036

Groups, Classes & Support

Support Groups

Brain Injury

Third Thursday of each month  
7 - 8:30 p.m.
Penn State Health Rehab Hospital Cafeteria 
1135 Old West Chocolate Ave, Hummelstown, PA 17036
Questions? Contact Michelle Von Arx at 717-832-2600.

 

Concussion for Adolescents and Young Adults

Fourth Thursday of each month  
6 - 7:45 p.m.
30 Hope Drive, Entrance B, Room 1019, Hershey, PA (on the Hershey Medical Center Campus) 
Questions? Contact Jena Miller at 717-531-8070 or jmiller38@pennstatehealth.psu.edu.

Concussion resources for parents

As a parent, you play a big role in your child’s recovery from a concussion. You can best watch your child symptoms. Tell your child’s doctor about any changes. See the links below for more details.

Concussion resources for providers

There are many resources available regarding concussion for healthcare providers on the web.

Concussion resources for school nurses

There are many resources available regarding concussion for school nurses on the web.

Research & Clinical Trials

Please enter research and clinical trials information here.

Visit StudyFinder for information on our current clinical trials.

Symptoms, Diagnosis & Outlook

Tips and information on concussion symptoms, concussion recovery and more from the Concussion care team.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a mild brain injury. It is one of the most common injuries after a fall, crash or blow to the head.

Things to know about concussions

  • Concussions can be hard to diagnose and treat
  • Proper management is key to safe return to sports, school, work and other activities
  • Proper diagnosis and treatment of concussion is important and can help alleviate or reduce any long-term effects of the concussion. If you suspect a concussion, please see a specialist to have it treated. 

When to call a concussion specialist

Call a Penn State concussion specialist:

  • If you have had a sports related concussion
  • After 3 or 4 weeks and the symptoms remain or are not improving
  • If your child has had multiple concussions

Call your primary physician right away or, if you cannot reach your primary physician, go to the emergency department, if the following symptoms occur:

  • Behavior changes or unusual behavior
  • Confusion or problems thinking straight
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Fever

Go to the nearest emergency department immediately if there is fluid or blood leaking from the nose or ears.

Concussion myths and facts

Myth: Headgear, such as helmets, mouth guards or headbands can prevent concussion.

Fact: Helmets are encouraged in order to prevent more serious brain injury or skull fracture, but do not in fact prevent concussion. There have been no good studies to show that mouth guards or specialized headbands can actually prevent concussion.

 

Myth: Everyone with a concussion needs a CT or MRI of their brain.

Fact: A concussion cannot be seen on standard CT or MRI of the brain and are not helpful in identifying concussion. A CT or MRI may be used after a head injury if there is concern that a more serious injury has occurred.

 

Myth: Someone with a concussion needs to be woken up frequently from sleep.

Fact: Sleep is very important for concussion recovery. While a period of observation after a head injury may be needed to monitor for more serious injuries, someone with a concussion should be encouraged to sleep as much as they need to.

 

Myth: A concussion can only occur with a direct blow to the head.

Fact: A concussion can occur from a direct blow to the head, but also due to a whipping motion of the head.

 

Myth: A concussion is due to the brain hitting the skull, and leads to bruising or swelling of the brain.

Fact: A concussion does not cause bruising or swelling to the brain. A concussion is not just in one area of the brain, but affects the entire brain on a molecular level.

 

Myth: Children with concussion should be back to normal in a few days to a week, and something is wrong if they are not better that quickly.

Fact: Children with concussion will take on average 3 to 4 weeks for full recovery, whereas young adults and adults generally do get better in a shorter amount of time.

Get the Stats on Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States

Symptoms

Symptoms of concussion can be mild or severe. They usually fall into four categories:

Thinking/remembering (cognitive)

  • Feeling slowed down
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • Trouble remembering new information

Physical 

  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting (early on)
  • Sensitivity to noise or light
  • Feeling tired, having no energy
  • Fuzzy or blurry vision
  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Emotional/mood (Behavioral)

Feeling:

  • Sad
  • Irritable
  • Overly emotional
  • Nervous or anxious

Sleep:

  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Sleeping less than usual
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Trouble staying asleep
     

Causes & Risk Factors

What causes a concussion?

Many concussions are caused by:

  • Falls
  • Car crashes
  • Being struck on the head
  • Sports and recreational injuries

Diagnosis

Testing

There are several ways to evaluate concussions. We look at a patient’s history as well as their symptoms.

  • Event history - we ask questions about exactly what happened before, during and after a head injury.
  • Imaging - we may use neuroimaging, such as a CAT scan or MRI, to rule out more serious brain injuries. These tests, however, do not show the effects of a concussion, and generally are not ordered.

Outlook & Prognosis

Tips for recovery

Relative Rest

"Relative Rest" is very important after a concussion. It helps the brain heal. Ignoring your symptoms and trying to "tough it out" often makes symptoms worse, and may prolong recovery time.  

Healing takes time, so be patient. Your doctor will help you decide when you should return to work, school or other activities. If your symptoms come back or you notice new symptoms as you become more active, this is a sign that you are pushing yourself too hard.  

As the days go by, most people gradually begin to feel better.

Tips to help you get better:

  • Get plenty of sleep at night and rest during the day.
  • Avoid activities that are physically demanding (e.g., sports, working-out) or require a lot of concentration (e.g., sustained computer use, video games).
  • Ask your doctor when you can begin to safely return to your usual activities.

Returning to regular activity

After you’ve had a concussion, you may have a higher chance of having another concussion. Your recovery phase should include being symptom-free:

  • At rest
  • With full cognitive activities (such as school and work)
  • With full physical activities (such as sports, working and driving)

We can help

To schedule an appointment, please call 717-531-6824