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


  • 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


  • 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

Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through their commitment to advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.

Coordinated, Specialized Care Through a Dedicated Institute

Our orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. There, they focus on providing you with multidisciplinary, tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies. This produces the highest-quality patient outcomes. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional niche areas of orthopaedics, including arthritis care and joint arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery).

Designated as a Blue Distinction® Center

Penn State Bone and Joint Institute is a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. This superior designation from BlueCross BlueShield is only given to health care facilities and providers that stand out for their expertise in delivering specialty knee and hip replacement care. Our surgeons specialize in a range of pain-relieving procedures, including partial knee replacement, total joint arthroplasty, joint preservation surgery and complex revision surgery. They perform more than 1,000 joint replacement procedures every year.

Confidence in Treatment Through Education

We developed a special joint replacement education website just for patients undergoing joint arthroplasty. The website takes you step by step through the joint replacement process. From things to consider before choosing surgery to recovery after surgery, you’ll find the information you need to help you feel confident in your decision to undergo joint replacement.

Advancing Orthopaedic Medicine Through Research

The doctors and researchers in our Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are committed to advancing our field through scientific discovery and education. As the only academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine, and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials.

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