Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is defined as a set of common symptoms that occur in the days or months after a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). These symptoms include fatigue, depression, headaches, dizziness, and cognitive problems. PCS has been a somewhat controversial topic because clinicians rely on the patient's report of their symptoms, in absence of objective test results. In addition, research has shown inconsistent results for the prevalence of PCS after mTBI.
In a recent comparison of people with mTBI to people with no injury, researchers found that the rate of PCS was almost identical in both groups. PCS, therefore, describes a set of symptoms that are just as common in the general public as they are to people with mTBI.
However, when PCS symptoms were analyzed individually, the researchers did find differences between the groups. People with mTBI had significantly greater cognitive impairment than the cognitive impairment found in uninjured people. Additionally, people with mTBI reported their symptoms as more intense and disabling than the uninjured group.
The diagnostic criteria for PCS should be more specific than it is now, but further research is needed to define those criteria.
Dean PJA, O-Neill D, & Sterr A. Post-concussion syndrome: Prevalence after mild traumatic brain injury in comparison with a sample without head injury. Brain Injury. (January 2012).