Post concussion syndrome is a little understood disorder with a wide range of symptoms that affects millions of Americans each and every year. Victims of post concussion syndrome often experience symptoms, such as headaches and dizziness, for weeks or even months after their initial injury.
For most people, concussion symptoms begin to alleviate within a couple weeks to a month. It’s common at this point for concussion victims to mistakenly believe everything is fine after the recovery period is over. But for a good amount of victims, concussion symptoms will continue to persist for months on end. If you are one such victim, you should consult your primary care physician about the possibility that you are suffering from post concussion syndrome.
Common Post Concussion Syndrome Symptoms
Since the symptoms for post concussion syndrome manifest differently from person to person, it can difficult sometimes to accurately diagnose and effectively treat. The following is a list of the most common types of symptoms:
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Memory problems
- Blurry vision or sensitivity to bright light
- Depressed emotions
- Slowed thought patterns
- Sensitivity to loud sounds
- Concentration problems
- Fatigue or loss of energy
These symptoms belong in one of three categories: cognitive, physical, or emotional symptoms. Below is a handy explainer that further details each of the above symptoms, as well as what you should expect if you are struggling with them.
Cognitive Post Concussion Syndrome Symptoms
A frequent complaint made by post concussion syndrome victims is so-called “brain fog.” Studies have shown that up to 75% of people who suffer from post concussion syndrome report some level of memory loss. Unfortunately, there aren’t many treatment options for the memory loss caused by the syndrome. Though, experts do say rest and relaxation are the safest paths to recovery, since time is what is needed for the brain to heal properly. Keep in mind that excessive stress can often increase memory problems, so it might be wise to learn a couple of stress management techniques to help you calm down if you suddenly find it difficult to remember everyday details.
Delayed Thought Patterns and Difficulty Concentrating
Similar to memory problems, many post concussion syndrome victims report struggles with basic concentration or with sequential thought. Victims may find they are easily distracted, have difficulty following conversations, and frequently misplace objects. Victims should expect to experience such symptoms during the first few months following their injury and that they point to the existence of possible emotional symptoms such as depression.
Emotional Post Concussion Syndrome Symptoms
Depression and Anxiety
Unfortunately, these two symptoms often go hand in hand after a concussion. Indeed, one out of every two post concussion syndrome victims reports feeling depressed at some point during their recovery. And it has been shown time and again that anxiety can exacerbate depressive thoughts. Anxiety can trigger a vicious cycle of negative thoughts and behavior for post concussion syndrome victims, leading them to believe that their condition is permanent and they will never recover. Post concussion syndrome victims who suffer from acute anxiety or depressive thoughts are strongly advised to seek assistance from a trained therapist to discuss the negative emotional side effects.
Poor Sleep Habits
Up to 75% of post concussion syndrome victims report disturbances in their daily sleep patterns following their injuries. Such disturbances are often caused insomnia, hypersomnia, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, night terrors, sleepwalking, narcolepsy, and many other sleep disorders. Post concussion syndrome victims should do their best to practice good sleep hygiene habits. Sleep and rest, in general, are the best ways for the brain to heal after a concussion.
Physical Post Concussion Syndrome Symptoms
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 and disorientation is another commonly reported symptom caused by post concussion syndrome. Most victims report vertigo-like experiences, such as spinning rooms or difficulty walking in a straight line, within the first few days after a concussion. But it’s also common for such symptoms to occur off and on again for several years. Vertigo and dizziness can often nausea or vomiting, so it’s best to seek medical treatment if you experience such symptoms.
Blurred Vision and Sensitivity to Light
Another frequent complaint from post concussion syndrome victims is problems with vision. In fact, nearly half of all victims report some sort of blurring, spots, or fuzziness in their sight. Post concussion syndrome victims might also experience excessive sensitivity to light, experiencing previous normal lighting as intense and overbearing. Digital or fluorescent lighting especially seems to cause difficulty for some victims. You should be advised that problems with your vision may indicate deeper neurological problems such as a traumatic brain injury, so be sure to consult with a physician if you experience such difficulties.
Sensitivity to Sound and Tinnitus
Similar to light, post concussion syndrome victims also experience sensitivity to sounds that are typically described as quiet or at a reasonable level. Up to 40% of victims describe noise sensitivity issues during the recovery period. Conditions such as photophobia, otherwise known as light intolerance, can manifest after prolonged sensitivity to sound. Post concussion syndrome can also cause tinnitus, which is a constant ringing or buzzing in the ear. Sadly, there isn’t much you can do to relieve tinnitus. You must simply wait for it to go away on its own.
Causes and Risk Factors of Post Concussion Syndrome
While it is pretty easy to determine the cause of a concussion, a car accident or a nasty fall, it is still a bit of a mystery why some people get post concussion syndrome and others do not. Most neurological experts agree that there is likely some structural damage to a victim’s brain cells.
A competing school of thought, however, is that post concussion syndrome is due to psychological problems, stemming from anxiety, depression, or even PTSD. These researchers point to shared commonalities between post concussion syndrome victims such as high levels of stress, patterns of depression, and chronic anxiety.
Regardless of whether post concussion syndrome is a physical or psychological condition, there are a number of factors that increase the risk of developing the syndrome. The list below highlight the primary factors:
- Age: The older a victim is the more likely they are to experience symptoms of post concussion syndrome
- Sex: Women, by far, are more likely to be victims of post concussion syndrome. But this is likely due to under-reporting by men.
- Social Status: Victims in lower income brackets, who do not have easy access to sick time from work, often suffer from post concussion syndrome more than wealthier victims.
Preventing Post Concussion Syndrome
There are a number of ways that you can prevent both being injured with a concussion and potentially suffering post concussion syndrome. The following ways are effective methods to 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.
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney – The Advocates
If you are suffering from post concussion syndrome due to an injury caused by another person’s reckless behavior then you will need an Advocate on your side. Our attorneys have decades of experience helping accident victims recover what they are owed according to Washington state law. Don’t wait to contact our office in downtown Seattle about your personal injury case. You can either call us at (206) 452-4200 or chat online immediately with a live attorney from our homepage. Contact us today. You deserve an Advocate!
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