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Hershey’s Harry Bramley Talks Concussions

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In our July/August 2016 issue, “A Lasting Impact” raises some questions about the diagnosis and treatment of concussions. In that feature, we talked to pediatrician Harry Bramley ’99r (right), medical director of the Penn State Hershey Concussion Program, about the safety measures you can take after—or even before—a blow to the head. (You can find the original Q&A, “Off the Field,” on p. 42.) Below is an extended interview with Dr. Bramley offering more valuable advice for parents, players, and patients alike. 

How often do you see patients?  Depending on the season, I personally see 25 to 50 patients with mild brain injuries each week. But not all are from sport-related concussions: some are there because of motor vehicle accidents or diseases like meningitis. I also see patients on the whole spectrum of age, but focus mainly on children, adolescents, and young adults.

Any common concerns?  A common question is the risk of early onset dementia or chronic traumatic encephalopathy following concussion. The likelihood is rare for most people. For the vast majority, they are fine and live a normal life.

What symptoms do you look at?  The four major ones are: physical symptoms, such as headache, dizziness, or problems with balance; sleep, or, more specifically, trouble falling or staying asleep; emotional disturbance such as anger, depression, anxiety; and cognitive dysfunction including concentration, memory, and processing speed. We find out the ongoing issues that they deal with from month to month, then come up with a treatment plan starting with what symptoms tend to be the most troublesome for the patient.

Does age matter?  It appears that the younger individual is more vulnerable when it comes to a concussion. They take longer to get better versus high school, versus college, versus professional athletes. The symptoms of a middle school kid seem to linger on longer, which might be because of a developing brain.

How do you feel about return-to-learn guidelines?  We have a certified teacher in our clinic who meets with the families and is part of the team putting together a return-to-learn strategy. So maybe the patient goes from half days to full days, or maybe limited to one exam a day and reduced homework assignments. Return-to-learn, for us, is bigger or as big as a return-to-sport focus. That’s the first thing we have to do and move forward from there.

Amy Downey, senior editor


July 18, 2016 at 2:32 pm Leave a comment

Taylor Guelich Notches Another Award

Photo via Cardoni

Photo via Cardoni

For 17-year-old Taylor Guelich, whom we featured in our July/August issue, it’s been a bit of a banner summer. Some background: She could be the youngest student to ever enroll at Penn State — she was just 15 years old as a freshman — and is planning to have both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architectural engineering by age 20.

It should be no surprise, then, that Guelich doesn’t have a typical teenage summer job: she’s currently interning with the university’s office of physical plant, where she’s visiting job sites around campus and learning about project management. And, just yesterday, she was recognized by the Centre County Board of Commissioners for her academic achievements. (Read more about her award in the Centre Daily Times.)

With the fall semester a little more than a month away, Guelich says that she’s “really, really excited” for her junior year, explaining that she’ll take classes in each of the four architectural engineering tracks (structural, building mechanical, electrical/lighting, and construction management) and declare her discipline by the end of the school year.

She adds: “It’s actually incredible to think I’m halfway through college.” We agree.

Amy Downey, senior editor

July 13, 2016 at 3:55 pm 1 comment

Inside Our July/August 2016 Issue

JA16_CoverThe countdown to Rio is here, and we have Olympic hopeful and cyclist Matt Baranoski on the cover of our July/August issue. Before he graduates from Smeal this December, he will try to medal in the fastest event at the Games, the kirin. Baranoski is just one of the many Penn Staters to compete on the grandest of stages: Learn about all of our elite athletes—past and present—starting on p. 27.

The magazine also includes a story about the Penn State Center for Sport Concussion and Research, where professor Semyon Slobounov and others are rethinking the diagnoses and treatment of brain injuries.

We also take a look at some of the most iconic Arts Fest posters from over the years. Created by graphic designer Lanny Sommese, the colorful collection—and the stories behind them—start on p. 44. (You’ll also get a sneak peek at the new 2016 poster.)

More from the issue: A tribute to Bryce Jordan, the university’s 14th president, who passed away in April; a farewell to Christian Brady, who is stepping down as dean for Schreyer Honors College; a recap of the women’s rugby national title; and a conversation with Taylor Guelich, who started her freshman year at age 15 and may just be the youngest student to ever enroll at Penn State.

We’d love to hear your feedback on the new issue—comment below or email us at

Amy Downey, senior editor

June 28, 2016 at 11:04 am 12 comments

Behind the Scenes of Our Mike the Mailman Photo Shoot

Just days before his retirement on April 1, The Penn Stater art staff and photographer Bill Cardoni spent the afternoon with Mike “the Mailman” Herr for our May/June issue. We followed him from the University Park post office, where he worked for nearly 50 years, to his home in Boalsburg; as you can imagine, there were some laughs along the way. Here are a few outtakes from the photo shoot.

Amy Downey, senior editor

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May 6, 2016 at 10:43 am Leave a comment

Inside Our May/June 2016 Issue

MikeCoverThe May/June 2016 issue of The Penn Stater is hitting mailboxes soon. In the cover story, “The Mayor of 16802,” we celebrate the career of Mike Herr, who has been the friendly face of the campus post office for nearly 50 years. He retired in April, but before his last day on the job we were able to photograph him at work and, of course, at play. You’ll find his story and some wonderful shots captured by photographer Bill Cardoni starting on p. 36. After the photoshoot, Herr and his wife Mary ’84 (pictured below), insisted on serving coconut cream pie to our staff in their Boalsburg home.

In another feature, titled “What’s the Big Idea?” you’ll learn about three alums who have successfully built one of the hottest tech companies in Silicon Valley. Their company, Weebly, makes it easy to build a website—and, ultimately, is giving other entrepreneurs a web platform to grow their own businesses.

“World Travelers” shares the stories of alumni who studied abroad. Here, you’ll read about the places they went, the people they met, and the languages—and lessons—they learned.

Also in the magazine: A look at this year’s Alumni Teaching Fellows; a recap of the unstoppable Nittany Lion wrestlers who notched another NCAA team title this spring; and a nod to Rod Kirsch, longtime senior vice president for development and alumni relations, who will be leaving his position in August.

Let us know what you think about the new issue. Comment below or email

Mike Herr aka Mike the Mailman PSU

Photo by CARDONI

Amy Downey, senior editor

April 25, 2016 at 1:43 pm 3 comments

Inside Our March/April 2016 Issue

MA_BlogpostWe blinked and it was the end of February, which means that our latest issue will be headed your way any day now. For our cover story, Ryan Jones talked to five Muslim students at Penn State and learned about what life is like on campus, and in America, today. The interview, “People Have to Understand Who We Are,” starts on p. 28.

You’ll also find a feature on the Nittany Lion baseball team, which traveled to Havana in November to play against professional teams from Cuba. Penn State journalism students and faculty were there to document the historic trip.

Later in the issue, “On the Right Path” shares the stories of nine alums who followed unconventional routes to land the jobs of their dreams.

Don’t miss the interview with Chewbacca—er, rather, Joonas Suotamo ’08, the former basketball player-turned-actor who played him in Star Wars: The Force Awakens—on p. 24. The magazine also includes a recap of President Barron’s recent entrepreneurial trail; a look at freshman wrestling standout Bo Nickal; and a profile on award-winning medical student Allison Cleary.

Let us know what you think of our latest issue by commenting below or emailing us at

Amy Downey, senior editor

February 23, 2016 at 2:28 pm 6 comments

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