Care at Children's

Departments

Both the Pediatric Concussion Program, as well as the Sports Medicine Program manage pediatric concussions. Children 12 years of age and younger who are involved in sports-related concussions are managed by our Pediatric Concussion Program. Our Pediatric Concussion Program also manages children of any age up to age 18 years who have sustained a non-sports-related concussion. Our Sports Medicine physicians see children who are over the age of 12 and involved in a sports-related concussion.

Providers

Locations

Penn State Bone and Joint Institute
30 Hope Drive Entrance B, Suite 2200 and Suite 2400
Hershey, PA 17033

Groups, Classes & Support

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

Our clinical trials office guides participants through the process, from initiation through completion of the study.

View current clinical trials.

The Pediatric Concussion Clinic is currently involved in a clinical trial to evaluate microRNA biomarkers found in saliva that may help to diagnose the presence of concussion in patients.

Research evaluating the clinic’s current trends in recommendations for Return to Learn School Accommodations.

Research evaluating current school practices for management of students who return to school with concussion.

Symptoms, Diagnosis & Outlook

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). It can be caused either by a direct hit to the head, or by a whipping of the head or neck.

Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Imbalance
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Noise sensitivity

Cognitive

  • Difficulty with focusing and memory
  • Mental fogginess
  • Feeling slowed down

Sleep

  • Feeling more tired
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep

Emotional

  • Feeling sad, irritable
  • Becoming frustrated or upset more easily
  • Feeling anxious or down

Causes and risk factors

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

When to call a concussion specialist? Call a Penn State concussion specialist:

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

Call your primary physician right away (if your primary physician is unavailable, 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 directly to the nearest emergency department if there is fluid or blood leaking from the nose or ears.

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

An average concussion in the pediatric population takes 3-4 weeks for full recovery. Having a history of a previous concussion within the prior year may predict a longer recovery time. Having a history of headaches, learning difficulties, anxiety or depression may lead to a longer recovery time, because these conditions may get worse after a concussion.

Recovery Process

"Relative Rest" is very important after a concussion. It means that we should not be completely inactive, and that we can do things, but it needs to be a slow gradual return to normal activities. It helps the brain heal. Conversely, 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 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.

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 getting 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, gym class and recess)

We can help

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