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Wolf Administration and Penn State Health Highlight Concussion Dangers, Treatment for Student Athlete

Approximately 1.6 million to 3.8 million concussions occur nationally each year. 

Harrisburg , PA – Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and Penn State Health officials today emphasized the dangerous impact of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) on student athletes as preparation for the winter sports season takes place.

“Student athletes need to be aware of the dangerous effects of concussions and traumatic brain injuries,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Taking precautionary measures to protect themselves during play is vital to their overall health and academic performance. TBIs can occur in any sport, but collisions in sports such as basketball, ice hockey and wrestling are common during the winter sports season.”

A concussion is a type of TBI that changes the way the brain normally works. It occurs when the brain moves rapidly within the skull from a bump, blow, or hit to the head. A concussion can also occur from an external jolt to the body without directly hitting the head. Once the injury occurs, the brain is at risk of developing further injury and is sensitive to any increased stress until it fully recovers.

Symptoms can show up immediately or may not appear until hours or even days after the injury. Concussion symptoms, such as headaches and disorientation, may quickly disappear but can return. Other symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Loss of consciousness;
  • Seizures;
  • Increased sleepiness;
  • Persistent vomiting;
  • Dazed or stunned appearance;
  • Clumsy movements;
  • Being forgetful or confused; and
  • Mood behavior (personality) changes.

After a concussion, students often report experiencing diminished mental energy and becoming cognitively fatigued more easily. The department recommends that every school district establish a Concussion Management Team (CMT).

A CMT is made up of school personnel who serve as the student athletes’ academic and symptom monitor. The school should follow an individualized approach to meet the athlete’s post-injury needs and monitor progress. If a student is still experiencing symptoms more than four weeks after injury, he/she should be referred to Pennsylvania’s BrainSTEPS (Strategies, Teaching Educators, Parents, and Students) Program.

The department created the BrainSTEPS program to provide services to students who have experienced an acquired brain injury (TBI and non-TBI). The program helps students who have a brain injury that is still impacting their performance four or more weeks after the injury. Once referred for services, the student receives program monitoring from the moment of referral until he or she graduates. A referral can be made online at

Additional resources for TBIs and concussions can be found on the Department of Health’s website at or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nate Wardle, 717-787-1783 or

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