Still Experiencing Concussion Symptoms? You May Have PCS
Still Experiencing Concussion Symptoms? You May Have PCS.
The brain is one of our most fragile organs, meaning even a relatively small impact or force—like a low-speed car accident or a slip & fall where the victim hits their head—can cause damage. As a society, we tend to think of concussions, the most common type of brain injury, as “not that serious.” This is a bit of a misconception. Concussions are traumatic brain injuries, though mild ones, and they can cause symptoms that go far beyond a temporary blackout and ensuing confusion.
While some concussion patients are lucky enough to avoid the most serious symptoms and have a relatively quick and easy recovery, others face lasting challenges. Around 50% of concussion patients still experience symptoms a month after the injury. When these effects persist past 1-2 months, it’s likely the patient is experiencing post-concussion syndrome or PCS. This condition isn’t a sign of slow healing. It’s a chronic injury that may necessitate specialized treatment and big life changes.
WHAT IS POST-CONCUSSION SYNDROME?
Doctors and researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes post-concussion syndrome. They just know it exists from observing it in patients (around 15% show symptoms at the 1-year mark after their injury). It is not necessarily a sign of persisting damage (though brain cells, once killed, have no way to regenerate—they are lost forever). Doctors haven’t even noticed any ties between the severity of a concussion and a patient’s chance of developing PCS.
Because it’s such a big question mark still, many concussion patients don’t know about this risk, and doctors may even misdiagnose them. It’s important for accident victims to know this condition could be affecting them even if the original injury happened long ago.
How to Spot Post-Concussion Syndrome
The symptoms of PCS are similar to the aftereffects of a concussion (minus losing consciousness, which only happens at the moment of injury). They can affect many parts of your body and mind, and include:
- Issues with balance, dizziness, vertigo, or nausea
- Blurry vision or difficulty moving and focusing eyes
- Hypersensitivity to light, noise, or other stimuli that did not previously bother the patient
- Difficulty sleeping and/or fatigue
- Trouble with memory and/or concentration
- Personality changes, irritability, and/or loss of interest in previous hobbies
If you are just suffering from one of these symptoms, the problem is likely something other than PCS. But, if more than one of the items on this list sound relatable, or sound similar to something you are experiencing, it’s worth talking to your doctor.
Have You Received One of These Diagnoses?
Because the symptoms of PCS cover so many potential functions, doctors often confuse the condition with other mental or physical disorders. PCS patients are often incorrectly diagnosed with:
- Cervical strain associated disorder
- Chronic pain syndrome
- Factitious disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- Polypharmacy (negative interactions between medications)
- Post-traumatic headaches
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Somatoform disorder
- Sleep disorder
If you’ve received one of these diagnoses after experiencing a concussion and don’t believe it fits, asking for a second opinion can help determine if you’re actually experiencing PCS.
PCS In Infants and Children
Because children and especially infants are not able to communicate symptoms with as much clarity and coherence as adults, PCS may be missed in younger patients. Among school-aged children, the condition will often manifest as difficulty with studies. It may also cause nausea and increased fatigue.
If you think your infant experienced a concussion and may have PCS, watch for:
- Changes in mood
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Crying when the head is moved
- Difficulty feeding
Why Identifying Post-Concussion Syndrome Matters
If you were injured in an accident and are filing for damages, it’s important to know whether you have developed a condition like PCS. You have the right to request compensation for all expenses related to an accident, not just those that occurred right after. PCS can be a major financial drain, requiring specialized and long-lasting therapies depending on a patient’s symptoms. Additionally, patients may have to change their lives to avoid the worst of the condition’s effects. This could mean avoiding sports or physical labor; finding an alternative to driving; having to quit or take leave from a job; scaling back on activities they enjoy; and more.
You deserve compensation for all these expenses and struggles. Having a PCS diagnosis can be key to your case if you plan to ask for compensation for further treatment. And, getting a doctor’s opinion can also be important in helping you understand what’s happening and how you can seek treatment.
If you experienced a concussion and are still experiencing symptoms months after, it’s worth asking your doctor about PCS.
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