The exact cause of PCS is unknown. Several factors contribute to PCS, including:
Microscopic brain damage from a mild brain injury
Psychological or emotional stress that results from a mild brain injury
These factors increase your chance of developing PCS. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
or brain injury caused by a car accident or assault
Feeling depressed or being diagnosed with
after a mild brain injury
Low social support, including not having a lot of close friends or people to confide in after a mild brain injury
PCS symptoms vary from person-to-person. If you experience any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to PCS. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your doctor. Symptoms include:
Problems with sleep, such as being tired all the time, or not being able to sleep
Nausea or vomiting
Signs of confusion include a vacant stare, disorientation, delayed responses, and concentration/attention problems
Slower intellectual processing speed
Blurred and/or double vision
Decreased sense of smell and/or taste
Lack of balance and coordination
Alcoholic beverage intolerance
Decreased sex drive
PCS is hard to diagnose. The brain damage caused by a mild brain injury is so slight that many tests cannot detect it. It is important to see a doctor with special training in brain injury. These doctors are called neurologists, neuropsychologists, and neurosurgeons. To find one of these doctors, call a local head injury foundation for a referral.
Your doctor will ask questions about:
Your personal and family medical history
Your head injury
Recent missed work or school
Recent memory or relationship problems
Recent emotional problems, such as irritability,
, and depression
Tests may include:
Memory and attention tests—to assess your memory and attention abilities
CT scan—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the head; to look for signs of persistent injury and/or to see if surgery may improve the symptoms
MRI scan—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the head; to look for signs of persistent injury and/or to see if surgery may improve the symptoms
McCauley SR, Boake C, Levin HS, Contant CF, Song JX. Postconcussional disorder following mild to moderate traumatic brain injury: anxiety, depression, and social support as risk factors and comorbidities.
J Clin Exp Neuropsychol
Mittenberg W, Canyock EM, Condit D, Patton C. Treatment of post-concussion syndrome following mild head injury.
J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2001;23:829-836.
Ryan LM, Warden DL. Post concussion syndrome.
Int Rev Psychiatry
Thornton KE, Carmody DP. Electroencephalogram biofeedback for reading disability and traumatic brain injury.
Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2005;14:137-62,vii.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a