Post-Concussion Syndrome has come to the forefront of medical neurological science as the severity of the syndrome has been noted to trend in certain populations, particularly those that are repeatedly subjected to blows to the head, such as football players and boxers. While it has been medically accepted for decades that Traumatic Brain Injury may have severe, long-lasting consequences for those it affects, the reality of concussions, and the prevalence of concussion in sports and certain occupations has been more closely scrutinized by the medical community in the past few years, particularly as notable athletes have been said to suffer from Post-Concussion Syndrome.
According to News Medical Life Sciences, a recent study suggests symptomatology that presents immediately in patients with concussions may help predict their long-term prognosis and how those symptoms may best be treated. The findings were published on November 30, in the Journal of Neurotrauma. The Study, conducted by the Krembil Neuroscience Centre’s (KNC) Canadian Concussion Centre (CCC), suggest that the more symptoms from concussion that present, as well as the type of symptoms that present, the more severe the post-concussion syndrome may be in the patient, meaning that early education, recognition and diagnosis is crucial to the optimal recovery of affected individuals.
The study utilized a clustergram analysis to visualize potential patterns between patients and symptoms and in doing so, researchers analyzed data collected from 110 patients suffering from PCS. Clustergram analysis is a dynamic tool and part of a machine that uses mathematical support to statistically analyze large volumes of information and data in order to identify significant patterns in a vast array of diseases and injury, including PCS. The findings showed a strong correlation of worsened prognosis among individuals that presented with certain symptoms and their actions following the trauma, according to the researchers of the study. Dr. Charles Tator, neurosurgeon and director of the CCC, who led the study, said the single biggest indicator of poor prognosis is sheer number of symptoms following a concussion.
“These findings flag that the presence of multiple symptoms with PCS may indicate a prolonged illness. Although more research is needed, based on these findings I would encourage health practitioners to pay attention to the multiplicity of symptoms in PCS patients and vigorously treat as many of them as possible to increase chances of recovery. There is such a wide range of recovery among PCS sufferers that further investigation is necessary to better understand the condition. Once we can better characterize this phase of concussion injury, we hope that will help us determine whether there is also a link with CTE.”
CTE is abbreviated terminology for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and is often a progressive degenerative disease that can be found in people who have had a severe blow or repeated blows to the head, in which a concussion was likely present. NFL players have frequently been diagnosed with CTE and some are seeking legal damages as a result, according to InsuranceJournal.
According to the recent study, patients who presented with only one or two symptoms after concussion injury were more likely to have complete recovery than those who suffered from ten or more symptoms. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, visual disturbance, changes in affect, somnolence, depression, anxiety, aggression and suicidal ideation. Those who suffered depression and anxiety were linked to a poorer outcome, as were those who continued to participate in sports or occupations which may cause further head trauma. Those who experienced any type of symptom for longer than three years after the injury were also likely have a lifelong or life-ending event as a result.
While NFL players have been noted to have a higher incidence of suicide than similar demographic groups, the correlation has not been clear, and while other factors may contribute to those type of instances, further research is needed to understand PCS and protect those that may suffer a trauma to the head.
[Featured Image by Betsie Van Der Meer/Getty Images]