An impact to the head may not always seem serious in nature. In fact it is possible to get hit in the head and just continue on with your day, but if you become disoriented later, you may have suffered a concussion. Concussions may result in long lasting difficulties and impairment. If you sustained a concussion—or think you may have—it is important that you understand both the concussion and the possibility of post-concussion syndrome.
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury, usually occurring after a blow or impact to the head. Loss of consciousness—or being “knocked out”—isn’t required for a diagnosis of concussion or post-concussion syndrome, as some people believe. In fact, the risk of post-concussion syndrome doesn’t appear to be associated with the severity of the initial trauma.
Post-concussion syndrome is a complex disorder in which various symptoms—such as headaches, disorientation, and dizziness—last for weeks and sometimes months after the initial concussion. Often, symptoms from post-concussion syndrome occur within the first 7 to 10 days and go away within 3 months, though it is possible for them to persist for a year or more.
Obviously, post-concussion syndrome is caused by the initial concussion. But why a concussion leads to these symptoms is of interest. Some experts believe post-concussion symptoms are caused by structural damage or the disruption of neurotransmitter systems in the brain, resulting from the initial impact that caused the concussion .
Others believe post-concussion symptoms are related to more psychological (emotional) factors, resulting from the trauma and experience of the concussion. Headache, dizziness and sleep problems, some of the more common symptoms, are similar to other psychological symptoms often experienced by people diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
It is likely, however, that both the physical and physiological effects of the concussion play a role in the development of symptoms.
Nobody is quite sure why some people develop obvious signs of post-concussion syndrome and some people seem to develop no symptoms at all. There is no proven correlation between the severity of the injury and the likelihood of developing post-concussion symptoms.
When it comes to post-concussion syndrome, there are physical, psychological, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms. Although all these symptoms have been documented in someone with post-concussion syndrome, it is possible that some of these symptoms may be a result of some other injury that occurred during the initial impact, like a neck injury.
- Trouble sleeping (80% of patients)
- Fatigue, or being tired all the time (64% of patients)
- Headache (59% of patients)
- Dizziness or vertigo (52% of patients)
- Double vision (45% of patients)
- Sensitivity to light, movement, or noise (40% of patients)
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Psychological and Behavioral Symptoms
- Irritability (66% of patients)
- Depression (63% of patients)
- Anxiety (58% of patients)
- Changes in personality
- Mood swings and/or anger
- Decreased libido or sex drive
- Impulsiveness and/or loss of social judgment
- Lack of emotion
- Poor concentration (71% of patients)
- Amnesia and/or short-term memory problems (59% of patients)
- Slowed processing and/or trouble thinking (57% of patients)
- Problems with attention
- Impaired judgment
- Language problems
- Difficulty with problem solving 
Not every head injury victim will manifest all these symptoms. Post-concussion syndrome, like any other syndrome, can vary from mild to severe. Symptoms usually occur within seven to ten days following the accident and may last up to three months or longer in some cases. Some symptoms may be present a year or longer after the injury that caused the concussion.
It is believed that the following risk factors may increase a head injury victim’s chances of developing post-concussion syndrome:
- Age– The risk of developing post-concussion syndrome increases with age.
- Sex– Women are more likely to be treated for post-concussion syndrome. However, women are also more likely than men to seek treatment for medical problems.
- Cause of Injury– Victims of an auto accident, motorcycle accident, falls, and assaults are more likely to suffer from post-concussion syndrome than those who suffer from sports-related concussions.
Tests and Diagnosis
Although post-concussion syndrome has very real symptoms, it cannot be specifically diagnosed as much as the symptoms can be monitored and treated. A doctor may order a scan of the brain to check for other potential problems that could be causing the symptoms, like a CT scan or MRI. If a patient is experiencing a lot of dizziness, they may be referred to a doctor who specializes in ear, nose and throat, since the inner-ear is what controls balance in the human body.
A referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist may be in order if the symptoms include anxiety or depression, or if the patient is having problems with memory or problem-solving .
Post-concussion syndrome is a normal part of recovery. Most patients will be back to normal within 3 months. Likewise, post-concussion syndrome usually goes away without any specific treatment, however there are some treatments aimed at specifically easing certain symptoms.
For example, patients with fatigue should rest. Those with treatable symptoms like headaches or sleeplessness can take an over-the-counter or prescribed medication. For those with more psychological or behavioral issues, a psychologist or psychiatrists may be able to help.
By all means if one of the above symptoms is bothering a person with post-concussion syndrome, they should be treated, but most doctors simply say that time will alleviate most of them.
Dolman Law Group
The Dolman Law Group is a Tampa traumatic brain injury law firm. As a Florida brain injury attorney, Matthew A. Dolman, Esq., has a thorough understanding of the nature and complexity of these types of cases. Brain injury claims are expert laden, time intensive, and often very costly to pursue. Thus, it is imperative that your attorney is competent and experienced in handling traumatic brain injury cases and understands the common defenses that insurance carriers avail themselves of.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of an auto accident, motorcycle accident, trucking accident, or slip and fall call your Tampa brain injury law team at: (727) 451-6900 for a free consultation and case evaluation.