Post-concussion Syndrome

Post-concussion syndrome occurs due to bruising of the brain and commonly occurs in vehicle related accidents. The mechanism of the injury is either a direct blow to the head or sudden whiplash-type force even without any direct impact. As the brain “rattles backwards and forwards inside the skull” bruising of the brain occurs. Symptoms include headache, decreased memory, slowed mental processing, blurred vision, nausea, change in normal sleep pattern, lack of interest in usual activities, decreased sex drive, change in normal personality (angry/anxious for no obvious reason) and dizziness. Patients will often describe, “I feel like my brain’s working in slow motion,” or, “There’s a disconnect between what I’m thinking and how I’m able to say it with words,” or, “I feel like I’m dyslexic and will often switch around numbers or letters.”

There is no specific test to diagnose post-concussion syndrome, although frequently head/brain CT scans are performed in Emergency Rooms, predominantly to rule out a significant bleed within the brain, which is a life-threatening emergency. The vast majority (approximately 95%) of the time, symptoms will gradually improve and eventually resolve within six to nine months. Unfortunately, for the other 5%, the symptoms are permanent. In these cases it is felt that this is probably due to actual tearing of blood vessels, therefore permanently decreasing the blood supply to areas of the brain. There is no known medical therapy that accelerates recovery or prevents permanent symptoms. A healthy dose of reassurance is appropriate, and symptoms are merely observed for several months. Once the patient notices some improvement of these symptoms, it is highly likely that all the symptoms will eventually resolve. If absolutely no improvement has occurred by nine months, it is highly unlikely that any additional improvement will occur thereafter.

A Better Way to Get Better,
Adrian Lewis
Adrian Lewis, MD