A concussion is an injury to the 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 not known. A brain injury may cause a brief change in how brain cells work. This change can get in the way of using the mind and body to do tasks.
PCS is more common in women. It is also more common in older adults.
Other things that may raise the risk are:
Anxiety, trouble with thinking, and noise sensitivity that lasts a few days after the injury may also raise the risk.
Not everyone with PCS feels the same. A person may have:
PCS may affect daily tasks, social life, and work.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, health history, and activity levels. You will also be asked about your health before you got hurt. Questionnaires and neurological and mental tests may be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms until they pass. Options are:
PCS cannot be prevented.
Brain Injury Association of America
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Ontario Brain Injury Association
Broshek DK, De Marco AP, et al. A review of post-concussion syndrome and psychological factors associated with concussion. Brain Inj. 2015;29(2):228-237.
Concussion and mild traumatic brain injury. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/concussion-and-mild-traumatic-brain-injury. Accessed October 7, 2020.
Ellenborgen RG, Batjer H, et al. National Football League Head, Neck and Spine Committee’s Concussion Diagnosis and Management Protocol: 2017-2018 season. Br J Sport Med. 2018; pii: bjsports-2018-099203.
Management of Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Working Group. Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense clinical practice guideline for management of concussion/mild traumatic brain injury. VA/DoD 2016 PDF.
Rose SC, Fischer AN, et al. How long is too long? The lack of consensus regarding the post-concussion syndrome diagnosis. Brain Inj. 2015;29(7-8):798-803.
TBI: Get the facts. Centers for Disease Control website. Available at:
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Accessed October 7, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 5/25/2021