When an individual sustains a significant head injury, it is not uncommon for them to experience some level of post-concussion syndrome. Post-concussion syndrome, also known as PCS, is a medical condition that persists for weeks to months after a head injury has occurred. Not everyone who experiences a head injury will get post-concussion syndrome. Symptoms of post-concussive syndrome often includes, but is not limited to persistent headache after injury, mental changes such as amnesia and fogginess, dizziness or fatigue. Daily functioning activities, the ability to concentrate, think and remember things along with mood changes can be signs of post-concussive syndrome as well. Young age and prior history of headaches can be risk factors for post-concussive syndrome.
Post-concussive syndrome can only be diagnosed by a medical provider through the use of history, physical exam and perhaps some diagnostic testing such as CT or MRI scans of the head. Symptoms of PCS can be vague and attributable to other causes making it difficult to diagnose. Once other conditions such as infection, bleeding injury to the brain, or poisoning have been ruled out and PCS confirmed, treatment can begin.
The treatment of post-concussion syndrome centers on rest, minimizing stress and treating the symptoms of PCS. Pain medication may be prescribed for headaches and a specialist such as a neurologist and/or psychiatrist may be consulted to treat mental health symptoms associated with post-concussion syndrome. The use of antidepressants and psychotherapy is not uncommon for those suffering from persistent mood disorders from PCS.
Treatment for PCS can be difficult and complex because many of its symptoms can also result solely from pain or from post-traumatic stress disorder. Because of the significant impact PCS can have of a person’s mental health, proper counseling is important. Counseling can help determine the cause of symptoms through education, stabilization, and coping methods. Cognitive rehabilitation programs and other therapies often include the components of education, compensation and process-specific training. These therapies work together to increase the individual’s ability to meet the demands of daily life and restore as much mental acuity as possible.