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Post-Concussion Syndrome

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Post-concussive syndrome (PCS) is a medical condition in which involves symptom constellation that often occurs after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that meets mild criteria on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). A patient who has suffered more than one case of brain trauma is at an increased risk. Symptoms are described as emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and physical in nature. Studies have suggested that a mild TBI case that results in persistent PCS may have lasting effects on motor learning, memory, executive, and cognitive functions.

Post-concussion syndrome may accompany a brain injury following a car accident. If you suffered PCS in a crash caused by another party or entity, contact our legal team today and receive free, friendly advice on your case from our personal injury lawyers at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

At our law firm, we believe that you and your family deserve nothing less than the best when it comes to legal counsel. Since 1982, we have obtained fair compensation for those who have suffered traumatic injuries such as post-concussive syndrome in accidents across California. We will work to provide the same results for you. Contact us today to arrange a meeting with one of our personal injury attorneys, who can provide you free, friendly advice on your head injury case.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome?

When a physician evaluates a patient for PCS, they must recognize residual symptoms following a traumatic brain injury. Because of the ambiguous nature of symptoms, it may take some time to recognize them, and thus, resulting in a delay in treatment. Before a patient may be diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome, it must be established that a patient is presenting with cognitive deficits in memory or attention and is experiencing at least three of these symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Mood disturbances
  • Personality changes or apathy that lasts longer than three months
  • Sleep disturbances

As defined by the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10), Post-concussive syndrome includes the symptoms listed above lasting over three weeks. Further evaluation is generally not necessary for patients who have recovered in the first seven to 10 days after brain trauma.

What is the Initial Evaluation of PCS?

An initial evaluation of post-concussive syndrome will include a physical exam and patient history. This may be performed by a primary care provider on an outpatient basis for a patient who did not seek medical treatment at the time of the brain injury or in the emergency department in sports injury cases.

Notable areas include clearance of reflexes, sensation, proprioception, balance, strength, cranial nerves, mental status, and cervical spine in emergency situations. If the patient has become asymptomatic, a patient screening is recommended through vestibular-ocular motor screening (VOMS). Medical records should include any mental status or neurological deficits regarding the time that has passed from the date of head trauma.

In an emergent setting, evaluation may also include imaging through computed tomography (CT) head scan. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered when a patient reports symptoms over a month after the head injury magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered. The purpose of imaging is to detect any abnormalities in the structure of the brain and to allow the treating physician to determine what is causing the reported symptoms before making a referral for rehabilitation based on the patient’s needs.

Can Post-Concussion Syndrome Be Treated?

There are no specific treatment guidelines for PCS; it should be individualized to each patient and their complaints. This is because the types of persistent post-concussive symptoms and their severity may differ from case to case. Treatment options for PCS symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety and Depression: If a patient has experienced new or increased anxiety or depression after sustaining a concussion in an accident, potential treatment options may include prescription medication and psychotherapy. A physician may prescribe anti-anxiety or antidepressants to combat anxiety or depression. Psychotherapy may be useful as patients may discuss what they are experiencing with a psychiatrist or a psychologist who has experience working with patients presenting with a TBI.
  • Cognitive Problems: There are currently no medications recommended to treat thinking and memory problems after a mild TBI. For patients experiencing cognitive problems, time may be on their side regarding the best therapeutic option for their condition. It may take weeks or months after the brain injury for most of the issues to go away on their own. Speech or occupational therapy may be recommended for patients who require training in areas they would like strengthened. For patients experiencing stress, it is essential to learn stress management strategies to decrease the intensity of cognitive symptoms resulting from stress. Relaxation therapy may also be useful.

In most mild TBI cases, it may not progress to post-concussive syndrome. However, the minority of cases that do not demonstrate a recovery to baseline four weeks after the concussion may require physiological treatment and management. This is essential to help patients return to baseline physical and mental activity.

What are the Possible Complications of PCS?

Following is a list of complications from postconcussive syndrome:

  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in personality or thinking
  • Depression
  • Difficulty performing daily activities
  • Impairment of cognitive function
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Inability to work
  • Overuse of analgesics
  • Sleep problems
Importance of Patient Education for Improving Health Outcomes

Education is a fundamental part of health care and must be conducted properly for a patient to receive benefits. In cases of PCS, education is mandatory for patients and their caretakers, relatives, and family members. A physician should educate a patient on returning to school or work with resolving symptoms at rest. Patients should be advised that delayed cognitive rest and extended bed rest may potentially result in undesirable outcomes. To help patients in returning to baseline in most PCS cases, addressing comorbidities with treatment is key.

A critical point that a physician must address is that post-concussive symptoms are often worse in the first two weeks after the brain injury but may improve within weeks and resolve in a few months. The point of this is to reassure the patient as they may experience anxiety about the long-term consequences of their health and the symptoms they are experiencing.

In post-concussion syndrome cases, education is a top tool for treating patients presenting with this medical condition. This may be done in follow-up sessions or appointments with patients, providing follow-up multidisciplinary evaluations, phone consultations addressing patient education and informational booklets. In treating and preventing post-concussive syndrome in patients who have sustained a mild traumatic brain injury, education is essential to a favorable health care outcome.

Why is it Important to Seek Medical Treatment After an Accident?

Receiving medical care immediately after an accident may be useful in identifying any symptoms that may indicate an underlying traumatic injury, such as post-concussive syndrome. This type of condition may take several days, weeks, or even months before symptoms may present themselves. Delaying medical treatment, regardless of how minor or severe they are, may lead to potential health consequences and unique issues during the personal injury claims process.

After seeing a physician, following any specific plans of action they recommend for PCS is essential. Not only will keeping up with care will ensure your health and well-being, but it will also help in ensuring that all symptoms and injuries are documented. Failing to follow orders from the doctor or allowing gaps in treatment may cause insurance adjusters to question the severity of the injury in question. This is one of the many defense tactics that insurance companies may use to dispute the value of bodily injury claims or even deny them, no matter how serious reported injuries are.

For this reason, it is best to work with a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling head trauma cases involving PCS. If you are unsure of what to look for the best local injury lawyer to handle your case, watch this video.

Can You Seek Compensation of Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Given the force and speed when a motor vehicle collision occurs, it is no surprise that the aftermath may be traumatic and life-changing. In some cases, you may suffer from an injury with symptoms that may not present themselves immediately, such as post-concussion syndrome. This is a serious condition that should not be dismissed. Medical treatment should be sought if you have experienced any signs or symptoms of PCS.

The insurance company representing the other individual or entity is usually responsible for covering economic and non-economic damages caused by their insured. In other cases, a first-party insurance claim may be necessary for recovering compensation for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses. In the latter situation, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM and UIM) may be a viable option for recovery if it is proven that the other party does not carry enough bodily injury liability coverage or none to cover damages resulting from a traumatic injury such as PCS.

If the insurance carrier has made an initial settlement offer, it is best to reach out to a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in handling post-concussion syndrome cases before signing any documents. This is because the value of the first settlement offer may not consider the true extent of resulting losses. You do not want to sign away your right to seek full and fair compensation if your medical condition from the accident has worsened.

Contact a Post-Concussion Syndrome Attorney Today

As you may see, the consequences of post-concussion syndrome are far-reaching. If you suffered trauma to the head in an accident caused by another party or entity, you may be entitled to financial compensation for damages incurred. Contact one of our personal injury attorneys in Sacramento to learn more about the legal process and receive free, friendly advice on your PCS case at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

Photograph Source: Pixabay User ~ "TheDigitalArtist"

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