Post-Concussion Syndrome & Traumatic Brain Injury
Concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury, usually occurring after a blow to the head. Loss of consciousness isn’t required for a diagnosis of concussion or post-concussion syndrome. In fact, the risk of post-concussion syndrome doesn’t appear to be associated with the severity of the initial injury. In most people, post-concussion syndrome symptoms occur within the first 7 to 10 days and go away within three months, though they can persist for a year or more. Post-concussion symptoms include: headaches, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, loss of concentration and memory, and noise and light sensitivity. In some cases, people experience behavior or emotional changes after a mild traumatic brain injury. Family members may notice that the person has become more irritable, suspicious, argumentative or stubborn. Some experts believe post-concussion symptoms are caused by structural damage to the brain or disruption of neurotransmitter systems, resulting from the impact that caused the concussion.
If a concussion occurs while playing a sport, the individual involved should not go back in the game and should seek medical attention so that the injury is not made worse. Additionally, medical attention is critical if the head injury is severe enough to cause confusion or amnesia — even if there is no loss of consciousness.
Post-concussion syndrome treatments are aimed at easing specific symptoms, and are offered at 2 Peaks Center for Neuropsychology.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury usually results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body. An object penetrating the skull, such as a bullet or shattered piece of skull, also can cause traumatic brain injury.
Mild traumatic brain injury may cause temporary dysfunction of brain cells. More serious traumatic brain injury can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain which often does not appear on scans such as CT or MRI scans. Patients are often told everything is “normal”, yet they experience significant symptoms. Fortunately, the testing offered at 2 Peaks Center for Neuropsychology is sensitive enough to detect the cause of their symptoms. Symptoms can result in long-term complications or even death.
Traumatic brain injury can have wide-ranging physical and psychological effects. Some signs or symptoms may appear immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear days or weeks later or even longer. Signs and symptoms of mild and moderate traumatic brain injury may include:
- Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
- No loss of consciousness, but a state of disorientation, confusion
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Memory or concentration problems
- Mood changes or mood swings
- Feeling depressed or anxious
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilation of one or both pupils
- Loss of coordination
- Profound confusion
- Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior
- Slurred speech
Common events causing traumatic brain injury include: falls, vehicle-related collisions, violence, sports injuries, explosive blasts and combat injuries.
Once detected, these symptoms can often be treated with Cognitive Rehabilitation at 2 Peaks Center for Neuropsychology (see Cognitive Rehabilitation section).