A concussion is the most common type of brain injury. It occurs when a traumatic bump or blow to the head affects the brain, making it bounce or twist around in the skull. A concussion can change the brain’s chemistry, damaging brain cells and sometimes causing life-threatening symptoms. Post-concussion syndrome means the symptoms of a concussion last longer than expected – sometimes for weeks or months after the accident. No cure exists for concussions or post-concussion syndrome.
What Causes Post-Concussion Syndrome?
Post-concussion syndrome is relatively uncommon in concussion patients. Most people with concussions fully recover within three months. Although no cure exists for concussions, physicians will typically recommend rest and no strenuous physical activities that could further threaten the brain. Resting generally lets the brain heal itself, and symptoms will disappear.
The cause of post-concussion syndrome is unknown. Experts believe post-concussion syndrome could be an outcome of structural damage to the brain, an issue with the nerves’ messaging system, or the result of psychological effects from a concussion. It remains unknown why some patients develop post-concussion syndrome while others do not. Severity of the concussion does not impact the risk of post-concussion syndrome.
Prior psychological issues such as a history of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder may increase one’s risk of developing post-concussion syndrome. Research has shown a greater number of cases among people with these issues than concussion patients without. Older patients and women are also more likely to receive post-concussion syndrome diagnoses.
What Are the Symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome?
After any accident that involves or affects your head, see a doctor about a possible concussion. A slip and fall, car accident, or violent blow to the head could damage the brain in a way that causes serious injury. Some victims experience concussive symptoms right away, while others may not notice signs until a few days later. If the following symptoms persist longer than three weeks, you may have post-concussive syndrome.
- Headaches (especially tension headaches)
- Mood changes
- Depression and anxiety
- Vision problems
- Ringing in the ears
- Memory loss
- Trouble concentrating
- Sensitivity to light and sound
The symptoms one patient experiences with post-concussion syndrome may differ from those of another. Some may notice one or two symptoms, while others may have several lasting symptoms. Traumatic brain injuries differ from person to person, with no accurate way to predict how they will affect the patient.
How Long Can Post-Concussion Syndrome Last?
Post-concussion syndrome can be debilitating. It can interfere with a patient’s physical and cognitive abilities. It may result in lost wages from missed time at work, a temporary disability, and the need for treatment or rehabilitation. Each case is unique. Some patients with this condition may never fully recover. However, most cases of post-concussion syndrome dissipate within three months. There have been cases of post-concussion syndrome lasting one year or longer.
Preventing Post-Concussion Syndrome
Since experts still do not know exactly what causes post-concussion syndrome, the best way to avoid it is to prevent getting a concussion to begin with. The most common causes of concussions are motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries, and acts of violence. Wear a seatbelt at all times in motor vehicles. Wear a helmet if you are riding a motorcycle or bicycle. Make sure you or a child’s sports coach provides proper head protective gear before practicing or playing.
Upon a concussion diagnosis, follow a physician’s orders exactly. Abstain from physical or dangerous activities as a doctor recommends during recovery. Drink plenty of fluids and give the brain time to heal. Ignoring a treatment plan could lead to longer-lasting concussive symptoms or more serious brain damage. If you or a loved one have post-concussion syndrome after a brain injury, you may be able to seek damages from an at-fault party. Speak to a West Virginia brain injury lawyer for more information about your injuries.