A recent Australian study sheds new light on the debilitating effects of persistent post-concussion symptoms (PCS) felt by approximately 10 percent of concussion patients. Lingering concussion symptoms often include significant levels of fatigue and poorer brain function, which can persist for months, or even years, following concussion.
For the study, concussion expert Professor Alan Pearce from La Trobe University in Melbourne used innovative brain technology to look into how we can better understand and diagnose PCS, and in turn, pursue better treatment options.
“Whether it’s a fall at home or tackle on the field, concussion can affect anyone. But it’s the persistent post-concussion symptoms, sometimes occurring weeks and sometimes months after the initial trauma, that are so often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed,” said Pearce.
“Mild traumatic brain injuries are the most common injury, and concussions account for 80 percent of those, so this is a big issue for Australia.”
“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.”
For example, this technology was able to identify specific brain mechanisms — increased cortical inhibition and altered central information processing — which may be tied to the high fatigue levels. These lingering symptoms, such as fatigue and slow reaction times, could not be detected in previous trials, which tested only cognition, and they cannot be seen in an MRI scan.
Pearce says the new findings give doctors another opportunity to diagnose these persisting symptoms of concussion. They also give people who might be suffering the symptoms long after the initial trauma a good reason to get seen by a medical professional.
The findings are published in the journal Neuroscience.
Source: La Trobe University