The effects of concussion can linger for months after

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  Last updated May 22, 2019 at 10:44 am

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Sufferers of post-concussion symptoms can have worse brain function for months after the initial injury.


concussion head injury post concussion

Sufferers of post-concussion symptoms can still be affected months after the initial trauma. Credit: Getty/Squaredpixels


For many, concussion injury resolves quickly. For some people however, post-concussion symptoms can continue well into the future.


A study by La Trobe University, released in Neuroscience journal, looked into the effects that persistent post-concussion symptoms (PCS) felt by 10 per cent of concussion sufferers after a knock to the head.


The results found that significant levels of fatigue and poorer brain function can persist for months, or even years, following concussion.


Alan Pearce from La Trobe University used innovative brain technology to investigate how we can better understand and diagnose PCS and then, as a result, investigate treatment options.


Concussions are a big issue for Australia


“Whether it’s a fall at home or tackle on the field – concussion can affect anyone. But it’s the persistent post-concussion symptoms (PCS), sometimes occurring weeks and sometimes months after the initial trauma, that are so often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed,” says Pearce.


“Mild traumatic brain injuries are the most common injury, and concussions account for 80% of those, so this is a big issue for Australia.”


Post-concussion symptoms cannot be seen on an MRI scan


“For the first time, we used two types of technology to measure signals sent to the brain and signals sent from the brain. From this, we could assess the brain’s functioning in a way that has never been done before.”


The study found those suffering from PCS had higher levels of fatigue, slower reaction times and also an increased level of variability in their reaction times.


“With this technology we were able to make some significant discoveries on PCS sufferers having high fatigue levels and slow reaction times. These sort of things cannot be picked up in previous trials, which tested only cognition, and cannot be seen in a MRI scan,” says Pearce.


“These results give doctors another opportunity to diagnose these persisting symptoms of concussion. And they give people who might be suffering the symptoms long after the initial trauma a good reason to get seen by a medical professional.


“The next steps for this study, with funding, is to run these trials throughout rehabilitation. Rehabilitation can take many forms – nutrition, exercise, brain training and stimulation technologies being just a few – but we need to discover what works effectively and what doesn’t so that we can better treat PCS.”


The full study can be read here.


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