Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Concussions are mild brain injuries that commonly occur after a fall, crash or blow to the head. Concussions are a type of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Concussions frequently occur in athletes from either a direct hit to the head or the whipping motion of the head. Concussions affect the entire brain, not just one area of the brain.

At Penn State Health, we know that you want quick, expert care if you have experienced TBI. We will assess your symptoms and evaluate your history, including what happened before, during and after your head injury. We will also use neuroimaging, such as a CT scan or MRI, to rule out more severe brain injuries.

Concussion Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Concussions can be hard to diagnose and treat. However, at Penn State Health, our concussion specialists are committed to accurately diagnosing and treating your concussion to help your safe return to school, sports, work and other daily activities. Proper concussion management can help to alleviate or reduce any long-term effects of the concussion.

Symptoms of concussions can be either mild or severe. If you or your loved one has sustained a head injury and is experiencing any of these symptoms, call our Penn State Health concussion experts today for an evaluation. Concussion symptoms typically fall into four categories:

Thinking/remembering (cognitive):

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

Physical:

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

Feeling:

  • Irritable
  • Nervous or anxious
  • Overly emotional
  • Sad
  • Sleeping less than usual
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Trouble staying asleep

If your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms after a head injury, get immediate medication attention:

  • Behavioral changes or unusual behavior
  • Blood leaking out of ears or nose
  • Confusion or problems thinking clearly
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Fever

Concussion patients must rest to help your brain heal. Ignoring symptoms or trying to “tough it out” can prolong recovery time and make your symptoms even worse. The team of concussion specialists at Penn State Health will help you decide when to return to school, work and other activities. Typically, you should start to feel better as your body heals, but if your symptoms get worse, you are pushing yourself too hard.

The Penn State Health concussion experts recommend:

  • Getting plenty of sleep at night and rest during the day
  • Avoiding activities that are physically demanding, such as sporting events or workouts
  • Avoiding activities that require a lot of concentration, such as computer usage or video games  
  • Create a schedule with your doctor about when to return to your daily activities

To return to regular activities, you should be symptom-free:

  • While resting
  • During full cognitive activities like school and work
  • During physical activities like driving and sports

Children with concussions typically take three to four weeks to heal from a concussion, while adults and teenagers might take less time.

Experts in Care

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

As a parent, you play a significant role in your child’s recovery from a concussion. Our team has compiled helpful resources to help educate parents of children with concussions. You know your child best – we are here anytime, day or night, if you notice something is amiss during recovery.

Concussion Resources for Care Providers

Your primary care physician, school nurse and coaches will also play a role in your concussion recovery. Helpful materials to share with your team include:

Support Groups

Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.

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