What Is the Best Treatment for Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Reviewed on 3/18/2021
The best treatment for post-concussion syndrome is the one that works for the patient and it may involve a combination of modalities to relieve symptoms. Treatment may include aerobic exericse, physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and more.
The best treatment for post-concussion syndrome is the one that works for the patient and it may involve a combination of modalities to relieve symptoms. Treatment may include aerobic exericse, physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and more.

The best treatment for post-concussion syndrome is the one that works for the patient and it may involve a combination of modalities. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms of post-concussion syndrome. 

Treatments endorsed by the 5th International Consensus on Concussion include: 

  • Individualized aerobic exercise program (also called graduated exercise therapy, or graded exercise therapy) for patients whose symptoms are associated with autonomic nervous system dysfunction (such as problems with blood pressure and breathing)
  • Physical therapy program in patients with neck (cervical spine) or vestibular dysfunction
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to learn to cope with chronic mood or behavioral issues

Additional treatments for post-concussion syndrome may include:

  • Vision therapy, also referred to as oculomotor therapy, or neuro-optometric rehabilitation to help resolve symptoms associated with vision problems
  • Vestibular therapy to help with symptoms including loss of balance, dizziness or spinning, eye strain, blurred vision, headaches, and fatigue
  • Medications
  • Light therapy (photobiomodulation) 
    • Currently being researched
    • Devices use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to deliver light in the visible red and near-infrared wavelengths
    • Some studies have shown light therapy to be helpful for persistent post-concussion symptoms
  • CBD/medical marijuana
    • CBD may be neuroprotective and help the brain heal following injury
  • Craniosacral therapy
    • Involves gentle touch to the head and neck
    • There is limited research for this treatment but anecdotal evidence of positive effects
  • Massage therapy
    • Can help relieve tension in the neck and shoulders
  • Hormone therapy 
    • May be helpful if there is accompanying neuroendocrine dysfunction

What Is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Post-concussion syndrome, also called persistent post-concussion symptoms, refers to symptoms of a concussion (traumatic brain injury) that last longer than the normal expected time frame for recovery. 
 

What Are Symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Symptoms of post-concussion syndrome include: 

  • Headache or feeling “pressure” in the head (most common)
  • Neck pain
  • Dizziness 
  • Lightheadedness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Fuzzy, double, or blurry vision, trouble with reading
  • Balance problems
  • Fatigue/tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep problems
  • Problems paying attention
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Feeling slowed down mentally
  • Reduced tolerance to stress, emotional excitement, or alcohol
  • Decreases in taste and smell (rare)

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What Causes Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Post-concussion syndrome results from a concussion, which is a form of brain injury. 

Common causes of brain injuries include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Injuries from contact sports such as football, ice hockey, soccer, and boxing
  • Falling 
  • Accidents that occur from daily activities
  • Combat injuries such as from blasts and bullet wounds

Risk factors that may cause a person to be more likely to develop post-concussion syndrome include: 

  • Severe impact to the head or body
  • Being hit twice in a short time frame
  • Four or more concussion symptoms that happen in the early stages of the concussion 
  • Longer-lasting initial concussion symptoms
  • Significant visual symptoms right after injury

How Is Post-Concussion Syndrome Diagnosed?

Post-concussion syndrome is diagnosed with a patient history and physical examination, along with tests such as: 

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Reviewed on 3/18/2021
References
https://www.concussionalliance.org/post-concussion-syndrome

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/postconcussion-syndrome-the-basics?search=Post-Concussion%20Syndrome&source=search_result&selectedTitle=2~16&usage_type=default&display_rank=2

https://www.concussionalliance.org/treatments