Every year, more than 700 children are evaluated at Penn State Children’s Hospital as a result of a traumatic injury. Injuries from trauma, including a playground fall or motor vehicle accident, are a leading cause of death in children.1 “As one of only four Level 1 pediatric trauma centers in Pennsylvania, Penn State Children’s Hospital provides advanced care to local and regional residents,” says Medical Director Brett Engbrecht, MD. “Specialized programs and expertise, including that in our growing Concussion Program, contribute to the advanced trauma care we provide.”
In conjunction with the Pediatric Trauma Program, the Children’s Hospital’s comprehensive Concussion Program treats both children and adults on an outpatient basis, and is a certified ImPACT (Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) site. “The care team works closely with injured patients and their families, schools, employers, coaches, athletic trainers, school nurses and referring physicians,” says Harry Bramley, DO, Concussion Program founder and co-director.
Since it began in 2006, the Concussion Program has experienced exponential growth, due, in part, to increased public awareness of the potential long-term effects of concussion. In addition, a 2012 Pennsylvania state law now requires children who have suffered a concussion to be cleared by a specialist before returning to school-sponsored sports.
Surgeons, neurologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, neuro-psychologists and a care coordinator are all part of the multidisciplinary team of specialists in the Concussion Program. Therapists are well-trained in cognitive behavioral therapy, vestibular and vision therapy. An academic liaison is also part of the team and helps recommend school accommodations for these patients. This combined expertise is distinctive in the region, as the program at Children’s Hospital evaluates, diagnoses and manages any level of brain trauma.
The Concussion Program treats close to 100 patients per week, depending on the season. Patients often enter the program through a referral from the Pediatric Trauma Program, if neurological symptoms are present, while others pass through the hospital’s emergency department (ED) or are referred through sports medicine. For non-emergencies, physicians can refer patients to the Concussion Program by calling Penn State Bone and Joint Institute at 717-531-6824, and patients will be triaged to the appropriate group (sports-related, non-sports-related and child or adult).
“Regardless of how a child comes to us, we strive to provide each patient with the most thorough assessment, a solid and evidence-based diagnosis and prognosis, and, ultimately, the best possible care across disciplines so he or she can return to family and normal activities, as soon as possible,” says Dr. Engbrecht.
Brett W. Engbrecht, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Surgery
Medical Director, Pediatric Trauma Program
CLINICAL INTERESTS: “My work focuses primarily on pediatric trauma, injury preventions and congenital anomalies requiring surgery in babies.”
Harry Bramley, DO
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Medical Director, Concussion Program
CLINICAL INTERESTS: “I started the Concussion Program to meet a need within Hershey Medical Center and the community. It is important that we as physicians strive to provide the best medical care possible to give patients the best chance to return to baseline after an illness or injury.”
- http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/pdf/leading_causes_of_death_by_age_group_2014-a.pdf. Accessed May 19, 2016.