A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury. An injury to the head can affect the way your brain works. In most cases, concussions resolve within hours or days of the injury. Postconcussion syndrome (PCS) refers to continued symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury. Most often it resolves within a month, but sometimes the symptoms persist for much longer.
Treatment depends on the severity and length of time of your symptoms. Options include rest, reduced activity, various therapies, and medications.
The exact cause of PCS is unknown. Factors that may contribute to PCS include:
Factors that may increase your chance of having PCS include:
PCS symptoms vary from person-to-person. Headache is the most common and earliest symptom of PCS.
Other symptoms may include:
PCS is hard to diagnose. The brain damage caused by a mild brain injury is so slight that most tests cannot detect it. It is important to see a doctor with special training in brain injury. These doctors are called neurologists, neuropsychologists, and neurosurgeons. To find one of these doctors, talk with your primary care doctor, or call a local head injury foundation for a referral.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
Imaging tests evaluate the brain and surrounding structures. These may include:
PCS treatment depends on your symptoms. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
You may be referred to a therapist to:
Vocational therapy may be needed to help you with learning skills and training to start, or resume, a career.
Neurotherapy, also called biofeedback is a painless treatment using computers to help you learn how to modify your brainwaves to improve attention and memory.
There are no current guidelines to prevent PCS.
To help reduce your chance of getting a head injury, take these steps:
Brain Injury Association of America
National Help Line: 800-444-6443
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Ontario Brain Injury Association
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Last reviewed May 2014 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.