A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). It is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that causes the head and brain to move back and forth quickly. Concussions can be caused by a hit to the head during a fall, car crash, or sports injury. Healthcare professionals sometime refer to concussions as “mild” brain injuries because they are usually not life-threatening. Even so, their effects can be serious.
Most people with a concussion recover quickly and fully. During recovery, it is important to know that many people have a range of symptoms. Some symptoms may appear right away, while others may not be noticed for hours or even days after the injury. Problems may not be noticed until normal daily activities resume.
Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a relatively common complication of concussion recovery. In high school athletes diagnosed with concussion, researchers have estimated approximately 10% will develop PCS, and other estimates of other age groups and populations range from 5 to 30%. While most patients will not suffer from PCS, it is important for PCS sufferers to know they are not alone.
Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a complex disorder in which various symptoms last for weeks and sometimes months or years after the injury that caused the concussion. Patients with PCS can experience concussion-like symptoms at rest or in response to too much physical or cognitive activity, often forcing them to withdraw from their usual physical, professional, and social lives.
In patients with symptoms of concussion and PCS, brain imaging scans, such as CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), often are normal. These brain imaging technologies can detect more serious problems like major bleeding, but often cannot detect the microscopic brain damage in concussions.
No single test will prove a post-concussion syndrome. A doctor may want to order a brain scan to check for other potential problems that could be causing PCS symptoms. A computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be performed to detect structural brain abnormalities.
While it is difficult to predict who will suffer from PCS, research provides some clues as to who may be at more risk. Demographic variables play a role, with women and older adults being at greater risk than men and younger individuals. In addition to demographic variables, a person’s concussion and medical history can affect PCS risk.
Post-Concussion Syndrome can be extremely disruptive to a patient’s life. In addition to constantly managing concussion symptoms, which can intensify with normal activity, long-term PCS patients often have to restructure their lives to avoid activities and situations that cause symptoms to worsen. For children, this can mean extended absences from school and removal from sports and extra-curricular activities. In severe cases, it may be necessary for a child to repeat a grade.
In adults, PCS can seriously impact a patient's personal and professional life, interfere with family life, as well as the ability to focus, communicate, and be effective at work.
The Standard of Care for PCS is to refer the patient to a Psychologist or Psychiatrist or Licensed Independent Social Worker for anxiety, insomnia and depression issues.
Because most patients with PCS also have chronic neck and back pain issues, patients are often referred to pain management.
Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients who are prescribed opioids to treat chronic pain misuse them. Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder. An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
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The brain is made up of 100 billion neurons. These neurons process over 400 billion bits of information every second, through 4 quadrillion connections (synapses). We are only consciously aware of about two thousand (2,000) of those 400 billion bits of information. Those 2,000 bits of information are ONLY concerned about three (3) things: the body, the environment and time.
The brain is an organ, like any other organ in the body. It's a record of the environment. The 100 billions neurons that make up the brain, work in different patterns and combinations, which produce different levels of mind. For example, we have a mind to get up everyday, we have a mind to brush our teeth etc. The mind is the brain in action, at work. Thoughts are the language of the mind and Feelings are the language of the body. Different levels of mind produce different levels of action and function.
How we think, act and feel, creates a "State of Being", which is what we call a "Personality". Neuroplasticity is the ability to change patterns and combinations of brain function by stimulating networks of neurons. This is also known as "cortical re-mapping". The ability of the brain to change is called, "plasticity". Plasticity may have both positive and negative potentials. For instance, when a person has a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth, such as with hitting the head during a fall, car crash, or sports injury, aspects of both positive and negative plasticity are possible.
The ability of the person to regain function and adapt to the injury by re-wiring networks of neurons may be "positive" or "adaptive plasticity". However, loss of brain reflexes leading to an excessive level of neuronal activity leading to ANY of the symptoms below, may be regarded as "negative" or "maladaptive plasticity".