Posts tagged ‘concussion’

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

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

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