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Concussion (cont.)

Concussion Prognosis

A person with a single, isolated concussion generally has a very good recovery outcome with few long-term effects.

Short-term effects

Postconcussive syndrome:

  • The main symptom of postconcussive syndrome is persistent headache for one to two weeks, lasting up to months after the injury.
  • Sometimes people with postconcussive syndrome will have dizziness, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping, or problems doing certain types of activities such as reading.
  • Nausea and vomiting may occur.
  • Affected individuals may also experience other subtle cognitive or emotional problems.
  • Anywhere from 20%-90% of affected individuals develop at least one symptom of postconcussive syndrome within the first month following injury, and about 40% have at least three symptoms by three months post-injury.
  • Postconcussive syndrome is more common after a serious concussion than after a mild one.
  • Symptoms usually are relieved with mild pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil).
  • Postconcussive syndrome usually goes away on its own with time. Some people may have symptoms that do not go away, even after months. In this situation, contact a doctor. Sometimes tests (such as an MRI or cognitive function testing) or consultations with a neurologist can better assess this problem.

Long-term effects

  • Concussions are known to be cumulative. That is, each time you have a concussion it is easier to get another concussion in the future.
  • Repeated concussions can lead to long-term memory loss, psychiatric disorders, brain damage, and other neurologic problems.
  • If a person has had a number of concussions, the doctor likely will advise the person to avoid the activities that may put them at risk for future head injuries and to discontinue contact sports. Professional athletes are particularly prone to the effects of cumulative concussions.

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