What is Post-Concussion Syndrome?
Post-concussion syndrome is defined by a set of symptoms that occur following any impact to the head. In most people, symptoms resolve within 7 to 10 days. Patients are often recommended rest and gradual return to activities according to their symptoms. Recovery from post-concussion syndrome is variable, and occasionally symptoms may last months or persist for over a year.
Symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome:
- Extreme light or sound sensitivity
- Ringing in the ears
- Difficulty concentrating, or “brain fog”
- Mood symptoms: Irritability, anxiety, depression
- Chronic fatigue
While some patients with post-concussion syndrome demonstrate direct injury to the brain that can lead to symptoms, prolonged symptoms of post-concussion syndrome often do not reflect injury to the brain. Many symptoms of post-concussion syndrome may instead be caused by underlying nervous system dysregulation. This occurs when an acute, threatening event causes chronic activation of the body’s stress response system.
New evidence suggests that protracted rest and inactivity can actually prolong post-concussion syndrome and its symptoms, many of which are caused by nervous system dysregulation. I help patients understand the underlying cause for their symptoms, and regulate their autonomic nervous system, which is ultimately at the root of sleep problems, exhaustion, fatigue, and foggy thinking. I recommend autonomic regulation using heart rate variability biofeedback and gradual habituation to return a patient back to their prior function. Patients may also benefit from processing the actual event leading to their concussion, which can be done with Brainspotting.