Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can vary greatly in type and severity. Concussions are the most
common type of brain injury and also possess their respective degrees
of severity and effects. Concussions result from a non-penetrating blow
or impact to the skull. The brain can collide with the inside surface
of the skull or can compress and expand rapidly, resulting in bruising,
contusions, bleeding, and injuries on a cellular level.
Concussions can be mild, moderate, or severe, generally judged by symptoms.
Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a disorder in which a combination of
varying symptoms (such as dizziness or headaches) persists for weeks or
months beyond the initial injury. PCS is generally the designation medical
professionals give to post concussion symptoms that last beyond the initial
days following the injury. Not all people who experience a concussion
will suffer from post-concussion syndrome.
Post-Concussion Syndrome – Diagnosis and Symptoms
PCS is a generalized condition and experienced differently from patient
to patient. Studies have revealed that patients who have a previous history
of head trauma, young patients, or those with a known history of headaches
or migraines are more susceptible to experiencing PCS symptoms.
Diagnosing post-concussion syndrome is difficult, as there is no definitive
test for the condition. Diagnosis is loosely based on the patient’s
history of previous TBI and claims of ongoing symptoms. A doctor will
typically conduct a physical exam and a neurological exam, and may also
order an imaging test such as a CT scan or MRI to rule out other causes
of symptoms such as infection, poisoning, or bleeding in the brain.
For most concussion patients, PCS symptoms begin within the first seven
to 10 days and fade away within six to nine weeks, though there have been
cases of symptoms persisting for three to six months. In a few rare instances,
PCS symptoms did not dissipate until 11 to 12 months had passed. Symptoms
of PCS can be non-specific and commonly include:
- Problems with Sleeping
- Mood swings, depression, irritability, anxiety
- Difficulty with cognition and memory
PCS symptoms can be severe enough to interfere with work, especially for
jobs requiring hours of computer screen time or jobs requiring the operation
of heavy machinery.
Treatment Options for PCS
Most PCS treatment is geared toward alleviating symptoms. The majority
of patients who experience PCS are able to recover with plenty of rest
in a low stress environment. The treating physician or neurologist may
also prescribe migraine or pain medications and treat psychological symptoms
with a combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy. Additional non-medicinal
treatments, such a Matrix Repatterning, may help to shorten the duration
of PCS symptoms.
Symptoms do fade with time, but the patient must take steps to reduce the
stress from his/her daily environment and dedicated consistent time to
resting, sleeping, and avoiding noise. Patients with a history of head
injuries may wish to plan in advance and make adjustments in anticipation
of PCS if he/she happens to experience another concussion. Multiple-concussion
patients are more susceptible, so even a recurrence of a very mild concussion
could trigger a period of considerable PCS symptoms.