Post Concussion Syndrome

December 10, 2019

Lauren Fournier, PT, DPT

About 30% to 80% of patients with mild-to-moderate brain injury experience some persistent, concussive-like symptoms that develop after a traumatic brain injury. These symptoms may persist for several months. For example, 15% of patients will have symptoms 1 year later, and possibly beyond. Typically, patients don’t have neurologic deficits on examination, but report headache, fatigue, dizziness, impaired memory, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, and irritability, as well as lowered tolerance of stress or alcohol. At least three of those symptoms are needed to meet International Classification of Diseases ICD-10 criteria for Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS).

In patients with concussion and PCS symptoms, brain imaging scans, such as CT scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are normal, but not always performed. These imaging technologies can detect more serious problems like major bleeding, but often cannot detect the microscopic brain damage in concussions. There are newer, more sophisticated imaging that are more effective in capturing the damage that occurs in concussion. In some patients with cognitive symptoms of PCS, a significant reduction in brain activity has been found in functional MRI exams. Unfortunately, this equipment often isn’t readily available and is quite expensive, so most patients don’t have access to this testing. However, specialists trained in concussion treatment, such as neurologists and physical therapists can tease out what areas need to be addressed including balance and cognition. Even after prolonged periods of time, treatment performed in a physical therapy setting can make improvements in patients’ symptoms so they can manage their symptoms and resume their previous activities.

Here’s a nice little video from Lee Health that highlights how physical therapy (PT) can help. FPTS has a great team of PT’s the are trained in the treatment of PCS and other vestibular and neurological issues. If you’d like to make an appointment with Lauren or Karolina, please give our office a call.

*By BruceBlaus. staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014”. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436. – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

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