What is PCS?

What is Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS)?

Post-Concussion Syndrome, or PCS, is the persistence of concussion symptoms beyond the normal course of recovery. The majority of concussion symptoms will resolve within about two weeks. In cases where symptoms last longer than one or two months, doctors may diagnose Post-Concussion Syndrome. Patients with PCS can experience concussion-like symptoms at rest or in response to too much physical or cognitive activity, often forcing them to withdraw from their usual physical, professional, and social lives.

What are the symptoms of PCS?

PCS symptoms most often fall into four categories:

  • Cognitive
  • Sleep
  • Mood/Behavioral
  • Physical

Cognitive symptoms can include difficulties with attention, memory and focus. PCS often causes patients to sleep more than usual at first, and then many develop issues falling asleep. It’s very common after concussion to be more irritable and with PCS, many can experience anxiety and depression. Physical symptoms can include headaches, neck pain, dizziness, and sensitivity to light and sound. Click here for an easy-to-read guide explaining PCS.

Is PCS common?

Post-concussion syndrome is a relatively common complication of concussion recovery. In high school athletes diagnosed with concussion, researchers have estimated approximately 10% will develop PCS, and estimates of other age groups and populations range from 5 to 30%. While most patients will not suffer from PCS, it is important for PCS sufferers to know they are not alone.

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Why do some people suffer from PCS, but others don't?

While it is difficult to predict who will suffer from PCS, research provides some clues as to who may be at more risk. Click here for an easy explainer on PCS risk factors, and check out the video below to learn more.

Is PCS the same thing as CTE?

No. Post-Concussion Syndrome is a different disorder than Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), although symptoms can overlap and the two disorders can be confused, especially in younger patients. PCS refers to symptoms that begin minutes, hours, or days after a concussion and don’t resolve within a few months. PCS gets better with time and treatment, and in most cases eventually resolves completely. CTE is a progressive degenerative brain disease caused by head impacts. Symptoms usually appear many years after an individual was exposed to significant head trauma. If your symptoms began following a concussion, trust that you will eventually feel better, especially if you work with an experienced medical professional. Click here to learn more about CTE.

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Esther Lovett Barbara Piette Wyoming

Esther Lovett has struggled with PCS since middle school. She is now a beacon of hope for others struggling with symptoms for sharing her most personal, painful and inspiring experiences with PCS.

Check out Esther's PCS Blog

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