Postconcussion Syndrome

(PCS; Persistent PCS)

Definition

A concussion is an injury to your brain that causes problems with how the brain works. It can affect brain tasks like memory, balance, concentration, judgement, and coordination. Postconcussion syndrome (PCS) refers to concussion symptoms that continues longer than expected, often at least a month after the injury. Symptoms that last more than 6 months are called persistent postconcussion syndrome.
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Causes

The exact cause of PCS is unknown. A concussion may cause a temporary change to how the brain cells function. This change can interfere with physical and mental tasks. The trauma or difficulty managing symptoms can also lead to psychological symptoms like anxiety that complicate recovery.

Risk Factors

PCS is more common in females. Other factors that may increase your chance of PCS include:
  • Previous head injury or concussion
  • Increased age
  • Substance abuse
  • Previous anxiety issues or physical impairments
  • Loss of consciousness during original trauma
  • Loss of memory of the event
  • Abnormal neurological tests after the event
Anxiety, trouble with thought process, and noise sensitivity that is present a few days after the injury may also increase the risk of PCS.

Symptoms

PCS symptoms vary from person-to-person. Common symptoms include:
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sleeping problems
  • Lack of interest or enthusiasm
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Personality changes
  • Being very sensitive to noise and/or light
  • Difficulty with concentration
These symptoms can interfere with daily activities, social interactions, and ability to work.

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