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Concussion Program

The Concussion Program at Capital Health is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program that is part of the Capital Institute for Neurosciences. Because the number and severity of concussion symptoms can vary greatly from patient to patient, treatment requires a versatile approach.

Our highly trained neurologists provide thorough testing to evaluate the effects of a concussion, including examining a patient’s mental status, speech, reflexes, motor functioning, balance and visual acuity.

Our neuropsychologist assesses memory, attention, and other cognitive skills as well as emotional functioning following a concussion, particularly if symptoms persist. A few goals of a neuropsychological evaluation include identifying underlying factors that could impede recovery and providing tailored recommendations to help individuals return to their prior level of functioning.

We partner with ophthalmologists who offer orthoptic therapy for patients who have abnormalities in their eye movements as a result of a concussion. We work with Capital Health’s Rehabilitation Services Department to offer cognitive rehabilitation, as well as other specialized physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language therapy programs. These programs address concussion impairments such as headaches, neck pain, vertigo, dizziness, visual disturbances, vestibular dysfunction, balance and return to sport issues.

Our program also works with the highly qualified pediatric doctors and nurses at Capital Health’s Pediatric Emergency Department at Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell in the evaluation and treatment of concussion patients. 

What is a concussion?

A concussion is an injury to the brain that results in temporary loss of normal brain function. Concussions are frequently associated with blows to the head, but they can also occur as a result of any injury that causes the brain to move inside the skull. This movement can stretch the brain cells, causing microscopic swelling of the cells and chemical changes in the brain.

The signs and symptoms of a concussion can vary greatly from person to person. And while they’re usually not life-threatening, concussions are serious injuries and can have damaging long-term consequences if they are not managed appropriately.

Risk factors & signs

Concussion awareness, especially in sports, has improved dramatically in recent years, but athletes are not the only ones susceptible to concussions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children and older adults are among those at the highest risk for this type of traumatic injury due to their high risk for falling.

There may be no outward physical signs of a brain injury, but if you suspect that someone may have a concussion, look for any of the following symptoms (some may be immediate, while others may occur hours or days after the initial injury):

  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Headache
  • Memory loss/confusion/difficulty concentrating
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Interruption in sleep patterns
  • Mood swings
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Personality changes

Meet our team

Emil L. Matarese, MD
Director, Concussion Program

Luke W. Amann, PSY.D

Jennifer Dave, PHD

Janice Pesco, PT, DPT, MSW
Rehabilitation Services

Bernadette M. Stasny, PT, DPT
Rehabilitation Services

A community partner

Our program provides workshops and educational programs to help teachers, nurses, guidance counselors, principals, school psychologists and other school staff better understand and plan for a student who is recovering from a concussion. We also work with schools to help students who suffer concussions return to learning and extracurricular activities by:

  • Providing swift and appropriate therapies to enable students to achieve their educational goals.
  • Helping schools formulate personalized accommodations that meet the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and allow students to continue to learn while they recover.