Post-Concussion Syndrome

1 What is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Post-concussion syndrome is a complex disorder in which various symptoms such as headaches and dizziness last for weeks up to months after the injury that caused the concussion.

Concussion occurs after a blow to the head and is a mild traumatic brain injury. Most people develop this disorder within the first 7 to 10 days and go away within three months but can still persist for a year or more. The treatments focus on relieving the symptoms.

2 Symptoms

Possible symptoms of post-concussion syndrome include:

Headaches may vary and sometimes may feel like you are having a migraine or tension-type headaches that sometimes may be associated with a neck injury. In some cases people may experience emotional or behavior changes, that person may become suspicious, irritable, stubborn or argumentative. Seek medical attention if you had a head injury that is severe that can cause amnesia or confusion or if concussion occurs while you are playing a sport.

3 Causes

Experts believed that post-concussion syndrome is caused by the disruption of neurotransmitter systems or damage to the brain. But for some the think that it is related to psychological factors because of the similarity of symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, sleep problems that can be seen in people with anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Both emotional reactions to these effects and psychological effects of brain trauma might play a role in most of the cases.

No proven correlation between the likelihood of developing persistent post-concussion and the severity of the injury.

Experts have not yet discovered why some people develop persistent post-concussion symptoms while others do not.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Making a diagnosis of post-concussion syndrome is done by performing several tests.

Consult your doctor right away if you have these symptoms. He may refer you to a neurologist who specializes in brain and nervous system disorders or a physiatrist who is a brain rehabilitations specialist. Bring a family member or a close friend to accompany you and support you. Before the appointment, write down your symptoms and major stresses or recent changes in your life. Make a list of all your medications, supplements and vitamins that you are taking.

Some of the questions that you can ask your doctor include:

Why are these symptoms occurring?

How long will this last?

Do I need additional tests?

What treatments are available?

Do I need any restrictions?

When can I return to work or school?

Is it safe to drink alcohol or drive?

Your doctor may also ask you questions such as:

How did the initial injury occur?

Are your symptoms occasional or continuous?

How often do these symptoms occur?

Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?

There is no single test that can prove you have post-concussion syndrome.

You may undergo an MRI or CT scan to check for brain abnormalities or other potential problems that might be the cause of your symptoms.

Your doctor may also refer you to a doctor who specializes in ear, throat and nose if you are having lot of dizziness or a psychologist or psychiatrist if you are having problems with memory, depression or anxiety.

5 Treatment

The treatment for post-concussion syndrome will be based on your symptoms because there is no specific treatment for post-concussion syndrome.

For headaches – medications used for tension headaches or migraines and also antidepressants such as:

  • Amitriptyline – for post-traumatic injuries and for dizziness, depression and irritability, this may be combined with propranolol (Inderal, Innopran XL); Topiramate – (Qudexy XR, Topamax, Trokendi XR) to reduce headaches but side effects may include cognitive problems and weight loss.
  • Gabapentin – (Gralise, Neurontin) to treat different kinds of pain but side effect is drowsiness. Avoid overuse of pain relievers for they may contribute to persistent post-concussion headaches.

There are no treatments for cognitive problems as of the moment, time may only be the best therapy because most of them go away on their own after weeks or months following the injury.

Relaxation therapy and focused rehabilitation might be helpful as a cognitive therapy. This is done by training on how to use an electronic organizer, pocket calendar or other techniques for attention skills.

Make a research about this disorder so that you will be knowledgeable and will make you feel at ease.

Some of the treatments for depression or anxiety include:

  • medication – antidepressants or anti-anxiety,
  • psychotherapy – discussing your concerns and issues with a psychiatrist or psychologist who are experienced in dealing with people who had brain injury.

6 Prevention

To prevent post-concussion syndrome you must avoid head injury.

Here are some of the safety measures that you can follow to prevent head injuries:

  • use helmets – do this whenever you are playing sports or just playing with friends such as roller-skating, bicycling, ice-skating, in-line skating, playing football, snowboarding, skiing, baseball, softball, horseback riding, skateboarding or when riding a motorcycle,
  • take extra precautions in the house such as installing handrails or improving lighting,
  • fasten your seatbelt whenever you are in a car, children under 13 years of age should be in the back seat.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Arnica is the most popular homeopathic remedy for post-concussion syndrome. This is given to treat dizziness, headaches, amnesia and depression. It can also help prevent shock.

This alternative remedy should be taken with professional advice.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Here are some of the lifestyle tips to help manage your post-concussion syndrome:

  • take all the time you need to recover for sometimes this might be persistent,
  • stay positive because this positive energy may help you reduce headaches and stress,
  • conduct your own research so you can find other ways on how to cope with this disorder,
  • ask support from your family or friends or you can look for a support group in your area who are dealing with the same thing,
  • use other devices that can help you.

9 Risks and Complications

The risk factors of having post-concussion syndrome include:

  • age – as you grow old your risk of having post-concussion syndrome gets higher,
  • sex – women are most likely to have this,
  • trauma – if you had injuries or accidents such as falls, assaults, car collisions.
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