Post-concussion syndrome

A concussion is another way of describing a mild head injury, with or without short loss of consciousness. This may be followed by a short period of changes in mental status, but without any focal neurological signs; such as weakness localized to a certain part of the body. Remember, that no brain injury is mild. They are all serious.

As the name implies, post-concussion syndrome occurs after a concussion. It includes symptoms, which include but are not limited to:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Memory loss
  • Emotional instability
  • Moodiness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Impaired concentration
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound

These symptoms usually spontaneously go away after time, but they may re-emerge. It all depends. Many of the symptoms described above are slightly vague in nature, and can erroneously be described as malingering. This is, in fact, what used to occur before we didn’t understand brain injury as well as we does today. You can imagine how the above symptoms could interfere with your ability to function well at work, at school, or in the home. Once you get one concussion, you become a bigger risk to have other concussions in the future. NHL All-Star Eric Lindros had to retire early from the game of professional hockey on account of too many concussions. NHL All-Star Sydney Crosby sat out 1.5 hockey seasons (and counting) on account of concussion. It’s certainly no laughing matter.

One of the most important aspects in managing post-concussion syndrome is to recognize that it exists, and to recognize when it’s present. Then the symptoms can be addressed appropriately:

  • Treat medically what can be treated (like headaches)
  • Make temporary accommodations or adjustments in your daily routine
  • Educate those who are around or working with the accident victim, so that they don’t misinterpret or misunderstand what’s going on and consequently get the wrong message/impression

These symptoms usually improve over time, but they ought to be closely monitored by your doctor and members of the rehab team.

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