A concussion is an injury to your brain. It causes problems with how it works. It can make memory, balance, thinking, and coordination hard. Postconcussion syndrome (PCS) is when it lasts longer than 6 months.
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The cause of PCS is unknown. A brain injury may cause a brief change in how brain cells work. This change can get in the way of using your mind and body to do tasks. PCS can also lead to mental health problems.
PCS is more common in women. It is also more common in older adults.
Other things that may raise your risk are:
Anxiety, trouble with thinking, and noise sensitivity that lasts a few days after the injury may also raise your risk.
Not everyone with PCS feels the same. You may have:
PCS may affect daily tasks, your social life, and working.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and activity levels since you got hurt. You will also be asked about your health before you got hurt. Questionnaires and neurological and mental tests may be done. They will help the doctor find out how badly you were hurt. PCS is based on symptoms and how long it has been since you were hurt.
You will get better with time. Things can be done to ease symptoms until they pass. The steps you take will depend on your symptoms and how much they get in the way of your everyday life. Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Here are some ways to treat PCS:
Resting your body and mind is the best way to treat PCS. Resuming normal activities too quickly can cause you to get worse. You may also get more symptoms.
Physical rest may mean not working as much, having help at home with daily tasks, and taking naps when needed. It will also mean not doing things that can jolt the brain, such as sports, rollercoasters, or certain recreational activities. Athletes should not return to sports until symptoms have passed. Mental rest may mean avoiding multitasking, working less, and not spending too much time on the computer or doing mental tasks.
You will need to return to your normal activities slowly. A medical team will do testing to help find out when it is safest for you to do so.
Here are some medicines that may help:
Some symptoms can make it hard for you to complete tasks. Occupational and physical therapy may help you find new ways to handle these tasks. Therapy may also help you make habits that help ease some symptoms.
PCS can’t be prevented.
Brain Injury Association of America
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Ontario Brain Injury Association
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Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 6/25/2018