People who have been involved in motor vehicle accidents, falls, or other injuries involving a blow to the head sometimes develop post-concussion syndrome. Post-concussion syndrome occurs when a patient is experiencing physical injuries, emotional distress, and thinking difficulties following a concussion or physically traumatic event. These symptoms interact with each other, resulting in a person experiencing problems which are much more impactful to them than if they were experiencing only individual symptoms. In other words, as a person’s physical injuries become more pronounced and fail to go away, that condition results in a person experiencing increased emotional distress and increased difficulty in thinking clearly. Think about it, if you experience a headache that won’t go away, after just a few weeks you will surely begin to feel more irritable, have less patience, begin worrying that something might be seriously wrong with you, and start to have problems concentrating, paying attention, and occasionally forgetting some things.
Similarly, if because of an injury you are unable to work, you may begin worrying quite a bit about financial issues, your ability to pay your bills, whether you are going to be fired from your job, and whether you are going to continue to be able to meet your responsibilities to your family. With all of these worries, you may experience an increased feeling of tension in your back, shoulders, and neck, you may experience an increase in your headaches, and you may begin to have difficulty sleeping because of all the worries running around in your head. Additionally, all of these worries and concerns may cause you to have difficulty paying attention, concentrating, or thinking clearly.
Finally, a concussion can cause your thinking to be temporarily altered. If you begin to pay more attention to this alteration in your thinking, that may lead to increased worry about your health and your future, and the effects of a concussion can cause some increased physical difficulties such as balance difficulties, dizziness, nausea, or ringing in the ears.
As you can see, difficulties in one area can cause an increase in problems in the other two areas. The result can be a vicious cycle of problems feeding on themselves and resulting in problems which last a long time unless treated. Effective treatment for post-concussion syndrome involves intervention in all three areas at the same time. By doing so the cycle is broken, and you begin to feel better faster.
To summarize, post-concussion syndrome is a combination of physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms which can all combine to cause a person to begin functioning at a much lower level than they were before their injury. Simultaneous treatment in all three areas is the most effective way to reduce the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome and to help you return to normal as soon as possible. Becoming aware of post-concussion syndrome, maintaining good sleep habits, adopting a positive mental attitude, and limiting the number of activities in which you become involved on a daily basis are some of the most effective ways of returning to normal as fast as possible. Most patients will be back to normal within 3-6 months without any special treatment. Following the guidelines in this manual will speed your recovery.