Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a complex disorder in which various symptoms — such as headaches and dizziness — last for weeks and sometimes months after the injury that caused the concussion.
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 seven to 10 days and go away within three months, though they can persist for a year or more.
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.
Others believe post-concussion symptoms are related to psychological factors, especially since the most common symptoms — headache, dizziness and sleep problems — are similar to those often experienced by people diagnosed with depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In many cases, both physiological effects of brain trauma and emotional reactions to these effects play a role in the development of symptoms.
Researchers haven't determined why some people who've had concussions develop persistent post-concussion symptoms while others do not. No proven correlation between the severity of the injury and the likelihood of developing persistent post-concussion symptoms exists.
PCS may include a cluster of physical and cognitive symptoms that sometimes occur after minor head injury. These include;
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