Understanding Post-Concussive Syndrome


A car crash can be a scary experience. Perhaps you see the other vehicle coming directly at you, but there is nothing you can do to prevent the crash. Maybe the other driver hit you from behind, and you did not see the crash coming at all. Maybe things happened so quickly you are not even sure what happened. Directly after an accident, you may feel shaken up, both physically and emotionally. Injuries are often the result of a car crash. One injury you might suffer because of a crash is post-concussive syndrome.

What is Post-Concussive Syndrome?

Post-concussive syndrome goes beyond just the symptoms suffered in a typical concussion or mild TBI. Instead of going away after a few days or weeks, the symptoms of the concussion will continue for several weeks or months after the injury. At times, it may take days or weeks for these symptoms to begin to appear. Not everyone who suffers a brain injury will develop post-concussive syndrome, and the severity of the concussion does not necessarily play a part in whether the person develops post-concussive syndrome.

While the severity of the head injury is not necessarily an indicator of whether the person will develop post-concussive syndrome, there are several risk factors. Those over 40 are more likely to suffer post-concussive syndrome. Women are also more likely to be diagnosed with it, although that could also be because they are more likely to seek medical attention.

Those with previous concussions or other head injuries are also more likely to develop more severe symptoms. Those with previous psychiatric conditions, such as depression, may also be more likely to experience post-concussive syndrome after a head injury.

What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of post-concussive syndrome are many of the same symptoms experienced with a concussion. The biggest difference is the symptoms do not go away or get better after a few days or weeks. Most of the symptoms fall into one of three categories: physical, mental, and mood.

One big physical symptom is sensitivity to light or noise. Lights may seem brighter. Noises may seem louder. The person may also experience headaches, dizziness, or vertigo. Sleeping problems, including fatigue, trouble getting to sleep, insomnia, and restlessness, are also possible signs that the person might be suffering from post-concussive syndrome.

The mental symptoms include anything that really makes the person feel like his or her mind is not working quite the same as before the head injury. This may include memory problems. This includes the inability to remember things that were easy for the person to remember prior to the accident as well as difficulty retaining new knowledge. Another symptom is trouble concentrating.

A person with post-concussive syndrome may experience changes in mood. This includes becoming more irritable. What did not bother the person prior to the accident may become a huge annoyance and cause them to get angry quickly. The person may also experience depression or anxiety. For some people, personality changes may also occur.

While one or two of these symptoms post-accident is not necessarily an indicator that the person is experiencing post-concussive syndrome, the more symptoms, the greater the probability that it is post-concussive syndrome. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms after a head injury, you should consult a doctor to see if you have post-concussive syndrome.

How Is It Diagnosed?

In large part, diagnosis of post-concussive syndrome is about eliminating other causes for the symptoms. If you have recently suffered a head injury, your doctor will likely consider post-concussive syndrome as a possible cause of your symptoms. You may need an MRI or CT scan to rule out other causes for the pain. Once post-concussive syndrome is determined as the cause of the symptoms, your brain injury can be treated.

How Is It Treated?

Treatment depends upon the symptoms the person is experiencing. For example, if you are experiencing headaches, you will likely be given medication that is often used for migraines or tension headaches. Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication might be prescribed, or you might be referred to a psychotherapist to treat depression or anxiety. With memory problems, you might be referred to a cognitive therapist or given things you can do at home to help with your cognitive abilities.

For some people, time and patience are the best medication to treat post-concussive syndrome. While many of the symptoms can disrupt the person’s life for a while, they will generally go away after a few weeks or months, although in some cases, the symptoms persist for a year or longer.

Is it Preventable?

The only way to completely prevent the possibility of getting post-concussive syndrome is to not suffer a head injury in the first place. Unfortunately, completely eliminating even the possibility of a head injury would require unrealistic safety precautions. While you may not be able to completely eliminate the possibility of a head injury, there are several things you can do to decrease your chances of suffering one. First, always use a seat belt when traveling in a vehicle and make sure all young children are in age-appropriate car seats or booster seats. Using a helmet when participating in certain activities, such as football, skateboarding, bicycling, and motorcycling, can also decrease your chances of suffering a head injury that might lead to post-concussive syndrome. Eliminating trip hazards in your home can also reduce your chances of falling and suffering a serious head injury.

If you suffered post-concussive syndrome after a car crash or other accident caused by another person, contact us. A lawyer will provide you with a free initial consultation.