Benjamin Nguyen, M.D. Answers Questions On: Post-Concussion Syndrome
How are post-concussion syndrome and concussion different?
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that can occur after a person sustains trauma to the head. Concussion symptoms usually last about a week to 10 days after the initial injury, and in more than 90 percent of cases, those symptoms go away after a month.
Post-concussion syndrome refers to a nonspecific group of symptoms that can continue for several months after the initial injury.
What are the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome?
There’s a whole litany of problems that patients can experience with post-concussion syndrome. Symptoms can include headache, extreme noise and light sensitivity, dizziness, irritability, fatigue, anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties, and problems with memory, concentration, and appetite.
How is post-concussion syndrome treated?
Most of the treatment for concussion and post-concussion involves patient education and symptom management. If patients complain of headache, we look for the underlying reasons for their headache and try to treat that. If they complain of fatigue, we identify the underlying causes and give them suggestions for minimizing it.
For example, if a patient is tired because he can’t go to sleep at night, we try to figure out why. Is it because of pain or anxiety? This may require other specialists such as pain management specialists and/or psychologists work with patients to address those issues.
Neuropsychological testing also can be very helpful in evaluating and treating higher cognitive functions such as judgment, information processing, and insight.
We minimize the use of medications when treating patients with post-concussion syndrome. Often the medications used to treat these post-concussive syndromes have side effects of their own and may lead to other problems as an injured brain is more sensitive to medications in general. However, there is a role for pharmacological management because patients who come to see me are often those where conservative treatments aren’t effective.