What is Post Concussion Syndrome?
Post-concussion syndrome is a medical condition which consists of a range of physical and cognitive symptoms that persists for a while after head injury. A concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury which can present with various symptoms and these symptoms usually resolve after a few days or weeks at most a month. However, it can develop into post-concussion syndrome if the signs and symptoms are still present longer than weeks or months. Patients with the post-concussion syndrome also known as a post-concussive syndrome (PCS) should seek the aid of a neurologist for proper evaluation and management of the condition.
What Causes Post Concussion Syndrome?
There are several causes of the post-concussion syndrome; some experts suggest it can be triggered by head trauma from a blow to the head. As a result of the impact, structural damage to the brain or disruption of neurotransmitter systems can occur leading to the symptoms that are observed after a concussion. Other professionals have related this condition to psychological factors like an adjustment to the injury, pre-existing psychological conditions or brain dysfunction. Although controversial, it seems a combination of both physiological and psychological factors are responsible for the symptoms that result from post-concussion syndrome. Individuals of a younger age and those of older age group, with a prior history of headaches and also being a female have been researched to be risk factors for this illness.
Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
The diagnosis of a concussion or in post-concussion syndrome is often difficult to reach because there are no definitive tests available. A diagnosis is therefore usually made from the medical history and the presenting signs and symptoms observed in the patient during a physical examination. Some of the typical symptoms experienced by people suffering from a concussion are:
- Headaches are quite severe when they are felt after a trauma to the head, especially when they are frequent and coming back repeatedly.
- Dizziness should not be taken with levity, because it usually happens when one experiences a spinning sensation after a sudden head movement. However, in a concussion, it will be experienced without any significant movement, which makes it scary.
- Fatigue is often related to many conditions such as usual overworking, or lack of rest, or even more severe disorders such as depression. Anytime one feels exhaustion continually after suffering an accident that was to the head, it requires being checked out by a doctor.
- Irritability can be simply deemed as an ill-mannered reaction of individuals. This has led to severed relationships, broken marriages, and sometimes homicides as well as suicides. Imagine something as subtle as irritability, when one considers the occupation of the person that seems to have started acting irritably and gets irritated easily and suddenly. They should seek a proper diagnosis and medical intervention, even if it as significant as a vacation when there is no post-concussion
- Anxiety could appear in different forms. It could even stretch as far as panic attacks. People with post-concussion syndrome tend to be over-worried when things are not going their way. Also, they get nervous and can react in ways that are not usually attributed to them.
- Insomnia occurs when there is a problem with sleep. When this occurs after a head trauma, one should book an appointment with the neurologist and make sure everything is okay with the head. This is because the part of the body that controls sleep is right in the brain, and if there has been an injury to the head one should take special care, even when there is not a single physical sign that signifies any wound. The Neurologist is an expert in confirming and checking things of this nature and is best to clarify the reason for insomnia.
- Loss of concentration and memory is already a critical stage in this process of brain degeneration. Once the memory center is being affected and these people start forgetting things, one should be gentle and kind in helping them to seek help. Most of the people who suffer from memory loss find it hard to agree that they have amnesia, so being easy on them is highly important.
- Ringing in the ears otherwise known as tinnitus can be very crazy. Ordinarily, people won’t be discharged if they inform the physician they are still having tinnitus after a head bump.
- Blurry vision: It is funny that the eyes and the brain are closely situated, and hence most things that affect the head also affect the eyes. The brain sends light signals to the brain for interpretation, which is why anything wrong with the brain will affect how vision is interpreted. This is why one needs to get the assistance of the Neurologist when suffering from blurry vision.
- Noise and Light Sensitivity is very tricky because we all react to noise and light differently, but the way someone with the post-concussion syndrome will react to the light and noise after head trauma is unique. Headaches result from some of these interactions with light and/or noise.
- Rarely, a decrease in taste and smell is as a result of the loss of function of particular regions of the brain which was impacted by the trauma. Whenever there is a loss of any form of sensation most especially when it sometimes happened not too far from a fall, a sporting event, or an automobile accident.
Post-Concussion Syndrome Treatment Guidelines
Taking appropriate rest is vital after someone has had a concussion. Doctors also advise these people to undergo minimal stress in order to recover properly. The health care professionals offer treatment of a migraine or pain. Specialists like neurologists and/or psychiatrists are the best experts in managing and giving the required mental care the patient needs. Sometimes, patients suffering from post-concussion syndrome may be given antidepressants and psychotherapy as well.
It is important to understand the diagnosis given by the doctor, and they also require as much openness as possible. Neurologists may require answers to questions that may seek even to determine the cause of the trauma to ascertain if the trauma was the origin of the post-concussion syndrome or some other prior incidences.
When to See a Neurologist for Concussion Symptoms
When concussion symptoms persist for more than six weeks, the patient should seek evaluation and possible treatment for post-concussion syndrome. Patients have the chance to be evaluated by a neurologist, neurosurgeon, or a neuropsychologist depending on need. Imaging studies (MRI or CT scans) may be ordered if there is any reason to suspect complications.
There is lots of research that has been conducted on the subject of concussion, post-concussion. Recently, it has also been extended to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which has ravaged the lives of many American-football athletes, boxers, and a few footballers. Therefore, any form of mental alteration or changes to someone’s character should be noted and examined by a doctor.
DerSarkissian, C. (2017). Post-Concussion Syndrome: Symptoms, Treatments, Tests, Recovery, and More. WebMD. Retrieved 25 April 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/brain/post-concussion-syndrome#1
Doctors Who Treat Post-Concussion Syndrome. (2017). Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center. Retrieved 25 April 2018, from http://weillcornellbrainandspine.org/condition/post-concussion-syndrome/doctors-who-treat-post-concussion-syndrome
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Post-concussion syndrome – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 25 April 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-concussion-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20353352