How to Treat Post-Concussion Syndrome

How to Treat Post-Concussion Syndrome

The Long-Term Effects of Post-concussion Syndrome

A single incident that causes concussion doesn’t usually result in long-term effects to the brain. But the caveat: the brain needs heal completely.

While concussion rarely results in long-term effects, a very small percentage of sufferers experience post-concussion syndrome. The recurring symptoms of concussion may develop a week after the brain injury and may linger for several weeks, months or even years.

Post concussion syndrome long term effects?

People suffering from post-concussion syndrome can experience cognitive, physical, and emotional problems that include irritability, headache, problems with short-term memory, difficulty concentrating, and dizziness. Others feel a sense of not being “normal” or a bit “slower” overall.

Long-term effects of post-concussion syndrome can be significantly disabling and greatly alter day-to-day lives. It can result in an inability to complete work or attend school and even interact socially with others. Worrying about a deeper, more serious brain problem can even worsen the problem.

How long does post concussion syndrome last?

Due to the non-specificity of symptoms of post-concussion syndrome, it is often very hard to predict how long the symptoms would last and even prognosticate its outcome. According to studies, most cognitive deficits would normally resolve within 1 to 3 months after the concussive injury. By this time, the brain should have healed completely and concussion-like symptoms should not be experienced. But in some sufferers, post-concussion symptoms persist beyond this period. In a different study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, two-thirds of patients reported to have recovered from the symptoms within a year.

In some cases, the underlying cause of the prolonged symptoms is not really the concussion. Some may have pre-existing conditions like migraine headaches or clinical depression that can be mistaken as post-concussion syndrome. So, it is a challenge for doctors to know the real underlying cause of the symptoms.

Moreover, the body’s capacity to heal also plays a role on how long the post-concussion syndrome will last. Some respond well to rest while others require medication and other adjunctive therapies.

Is post concussion syndrome recovery possible?

The same study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma also revealed that recovery from post-concussion syndrome is possible. In patients who reported symptoms that lasted 3 months, about 27% eventually recovered within a month’s time, while 67% recovered within a year. The remainder who did not fully recover from post-concussion syndrome after a year was more likely to be non-compliant to prescribed therapy and/or experienced repetitive concussion events even during treatment period.

The recovery period is also dependent on the number of symptoms reported. The more symptoms the patient experiences, the longer the recovery will likely be.

Moreover, the study showed that post-concussion syndrome may be permanent if recovery has not occurred by 3 years. Long-term studies to examine recovery from the syndrome and rehabilitation therapy may be needed.

Post concussion syndrome test

Diagnosing post-concussion syndrome is often a challenge. There is no single diagnostic test that can fully diagnose this condition. Usually, the doctor will diagnose based on your symptoms. You may also be subjected to a series of physical examinations and diagnostic tests that focus on your nervous system. If you have post-concussion syndrome, the physical examination will likely yield no signs of problems with your nervous system.

Other tests may also be conducted such as CT scan or an MRI Scan. This is to ensure that there are no other underlying causes for your symptoms.

Post concussion syndrome treatment

There remains no specific medication or treatment modality for post-concussion syndrome. Usually, treatments are recommended based on the symptoms of the patient. However, there are several things that you might find helpful:

  1. Allow full recovery. Individuals who suffer from post-concussion syndrome are advised to take rest when symptoms recur and slowly return to their usual activities.
  2. Get adequate sleep. It is important to get good sleep hygiene. Get at least eight hours sleep and stick to a regular schedule.
  3. Medications to manage symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe some medications to treat your symptoms. These include analgesics for headache, antidepressant, medication for nausea, and others.
  4. Avoid stress and alcohol. This would greatly help your brain recover faster.

If symptoms persist and become particularly troublesome, your case may be referred to a specialist. They may conduct further examination.

There are also various therapies and treatment strategies that can help hasten your recovery. Direct-current electroacupuncture (DC-EA) is one treatment modality that has shown great impact for patients suffering from post-concussion syndrome. A case study reveals that it can help relieve pain and symptoms associated with post concussion syndrome. It works by mimicking the bioelectrical impulses of the body and working through the Autonomic Nervous System thereby resulting in therapeutic benefits. This adjunctive therapy may be used alongside other treatments. It can help manage prolonged effects of post-concussion syndrome.