The Essential Guide to Post Concussion Syndrome
One of the least understood disorders that affects millions of Americans each year is post concussion syndrome. Post concussion syndrome victims frequently experience the debilitating symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and depression. Victims can expect symptoms to persist for weeks or even months at a time.
For most people, though, the symptoms produced by a concussion usually begin to go away within a couple of weeks following their injury. Concussion victims often think everything is fine after this recovery period is concluded, but sometimes this is a mistake. Some concussion victims find their symptoms continue on for months, with no end in sight. If you are a concussion victim who can’t seem to shake their symptoms, you may very well be suffering from post concussion syndrome and may need to consult with your regular doctor about your health and well-being.
Common Symptoms of Post Concussion Syndrome
Post concussion syndrome symptoms can manifest in different ways depending on the person. This makes it particularly difficult to to diagnose and treat at times. Below is a list of the most commonly reported post concussion syndrome symptoms:
- Headaches and migraines
- Disrupted sleep patterns or insomnia
- Vertigo and dizziness
- Depression and anxiousness
- Memory difficulties
- Blurry vision or sensitivity to bright light
- Concentration problems and slowed thought patterns
- Tinnitus or sensitivity to loud sounds
- Fatigue or loss of energy
Medical experts categorize such symptoms into one of three categories: physical, emotional, or cognitive. The following list is a useful explainer detailing each of the above symptoms, as well as what to expect if you are unfortunate to struggle with them.
Cognitive Symptoms of Post Concussion Syndrome
One of the most common complaint from post concussion syndrome victims is that of “brain fog.” Multiple studies have shown that up to 75% of post concussion syndrome victims report some sort of memory loss after their concussion recovery period.
It’s unfortunate, but there simply aren’t many ways to treat memory loss resulting from post concussion syndrome. Simple relaxation and rest currently are the best paths to recovery. Time is what your brain needs most in order to properly heal. You should also avoid stressful situation since they can lead to further memory problems down the road. You might want to learn a few stress management exercises in order to keep you calm if you do find yourself in an anxious situation and begin to struggle with remembering every day details.
Concentration Problems and Slowed Thought Patterns
Another symptom post concussion syndrome victims frequently experience is the struggle to concentrate or have sequential thoughts. Such victims find themselves distracted easily, unable to follow complex conversations, and misplacing items they use regularly, such as keys or their phones. The first few months following a concussion is when post concussion syndrome victims should expect to experience such symptoms. Victims should know that such memories problems can also point the way to emotional difficulties like depression, so they should pay special attention to sudden changes in their mood.
Emotional Symptoms of Post Concussion Syndrome
Depression and Anxiety
Sadly, depression and anxiety go hand in hand when it comes to post concussion syndrome. In fact, 1 out of every 2 post concussion syndrome victims reports feelings of depression during their recovery process. And it is a fairly common fact that anxiety exacerbates such depressive thought patterns.
Indeed, anxiety can cause a rather vicious cycle of negative thinking and behavior in victims of post concussion syndrome, even causing them to think their condition and symptoms are permanent and that they will never fully recover. Post concussion syndrome victims who experience severe anxiety and depressive thoughts should seek out professional psychological therapy to help sort through any negative emotional side effects caused by their condition.
Poor Sleep Habits
A full 75% of people who suffer from post concussion syndrome report difficultly sleeping for weeks after their injury. Such sleep disturbances are caused by a variety of illnesses, such as hyperinsomnia, insomnia, sleepwalking, night terrors, narcolepsy, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, and a number of other common sleep disorders. Post concussion syndrome victims are advised to improve their sleep hygiene habits since sleep, in general, is the best way for the brain to heal following a concussion.
Physical Symptoms of Post Concussion Syndrome
Migraines and Headaches
By far the most frequently reported post concussion syndrome symptom is that of headaches or migraines. Headaches affect over 90% of victims who have suffered a concussion. Beyond pain medication, there is little victims can do to alleviate the pain caused by headaches and migraines. And with such headaches lasting anywhere from 3 to 12 months, many post concussion syndrome victims are often left reeling from the chronic pain.
Vertigo and Dizziness
Dizziness is another widely reported symptom that is caused by post concussion syndrome. It is common for victims to suffer vertigo or other disorienting experiences, like the room suddenly spinning or finding it difficult to walk in a straight line. Much of these experiences occur during the first few days following a concussion and fade shortly thereafter. However, some victims experience symptoms of dizziness off and on again for months or even years after their concussion. Vertigo and dizziness commonly cause nausea and vomiting, so if you experience such symptoms do not hesitate to visit a doctor or a trained healthcare professional.
Blurred Vision and Sensitivity to Light
Another symptom post concussion victims complain about is vision problems. Indeed, almost half of all victims reported spots, blurring, or fuzziness in their field of vision. Post concussion syndrome victims may also find they are suddenly sensitive to normal light levels, feeling they are too intense or even overbearing. In particular, fluorescent or digital lighting appears to cause the most difficulty for post concussion syndrome victims. You should know that vision problems following a concussion indicates that you may be suffering deeper neurological problems, like a traumatic brain injury, so you should consult with your doctor if you continue to experience such difficulties.
Sensitivity to Sound and Tinnitus
Just as they do with vision problems, post concussion syndrome victims may also experience sensitivity to sounds that are normally experienced as reasonable or at a quiet level. 40% of victims, in fact, describe issues with noise sensitivity while they are in the recovery period. Commonly reported conditions such as photophobia, otherwise known as light intolerance, are known to manifest after a prolonged sensitivity to sounds. It is also common for post concussion syndrome victims to experience tinnitus, the persistent buzzing or ringing in the ear canal. Since there isn’t much you can do to relieve the ringing of tinnitus, you have no choice but to wait for it to go away on its own.
Risk Factors and Causes of Post Concussion Syndrome
While it is fairly easy to figure out the cause of any one concussion, such as a car accident or a nasty slip and fall, the jury is still out about what exactly causes some people to get post concussion syndrome. A majority of neurological experts believe that there is some sort of structural damage to victims’ brain cells and chemistry.
But a competing school of thought believes post concussion syndrome is a result of psychological trauma, likely stemming from depression, anxiety, or possibly PTSD. Such researchers underscore a shared commonality among post concussion syndrome victims to have high stress levels, recurring periods of depression, and chronic bouts of anxiety.
Yet, regardless of whether post concussion syndrome is rooted in a physical or a psychological problem, a number of factors tend to increase the risk of developing the problematic syndrome. Below is a list that highlights the primary factors:
- Age: Older victims are far more likely to experience symptoms of post concussion syndrome
- Sex: By far, women report symptoms of post concussion syndrome than men, likely do to under-reporting by male victims.
- Social Status: Lower income victims, who do not have access to sick time, suffer more from post concussion syndrome than wealthier victims do.
Post Concussion Prevention
Thankfully, there are several ways you can prevent being injured with a concussion and potentially suffering post concussion syndrome. Here are the following ways you can effectively prevent head injuries.
- Car Safety Protections: Be sure to always use your seat belt and that the air bag in your car is activated. You should also only ever purchase vehicles with high safety ratings.
- Prevent Falls: Installing handrails in your bathtub or to a stair case can go a long way in preventing accidental falls. Removing small rugs or other slip-prone surfaces is another great way to stay on your feet and protect your head.
- Helmets: If you engage in any activity that carries the risk of a head injury be sure to use the proper helmet or head protection. Sports such as boxing or exercise activities like bicycle riding or skateboarding, each have specially-designed helmets that protect the brain.
Contact the Advocates Today in Missoula, Great Falls, and Bozeman!
If you’ve suffered a concussion in an injury caused by another person and you are now experiencing symptoms of post concussion syndrome, you will need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. Our attorneys have decades of experience helping accident victims just like you. Don’t wait to contact our office today for a free evaluation of your case. You can either call us at (406) 272-6986 or chat online right now with a live lawyer from our homepage. You deserve an Advocate!