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Long term effects of concussion

20 February, 2019

Long term effects of concussion

Approximate reading time: 1-2 minutes

Concussion symptoms are most commonly short lived - resolving in 7 - 10 days. For some - around 15% - the pain, fogginess and other symptoms can last weeks, months or years.

Long term concussion symptoms are varied with the most common being:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness / vertigo
  • Neck stiffness
  • Spatial awareness deficits
  • ‘Foggy head’ such as memory difficulties 

There are many factors which can lead to an individual being more vulnerable to prolonged symptoms. The likelihood is not related to the severity of the injury. Losing consciousness isn't a necessary either.

The probably for sustained symptoms increases in:

  • Females
  • Migraine sufferers
  • Mental health such as anxiety or depression
  • Learning difficulties such as dyslexia
  • Behavioural concerns such as attention deficit (ADHD / ADD)

Increased risk of injury

Musculoskeletal injuries are more common after concussions (Howell et al 2018). For a full year after the concussion there's a greater risk (Lynall et al. 2016) (Nordström et al 2016). Another study by Nyberg (2015) found that post concussion players returning to sport had more severe knee injuries. There’s been found to be particular associations with ankle sprains, knee injuries and leg muscle strains (Gilbert et al 2016).

The research doesn’t know why this is the case yet. The current theory is that there’s alterations in the motor and attentional control in the brain that remain after a concussion.

We know that there’s changes in balance and walking style after a concussion (Howell et al 2019). These can be clues as to how the brain is recovering.

Appointments available in Moonee Ponds or online.

About the Author

Dr Cassie Atkinson-Quinton - Chiropractor, Brain Health Coach & Biofeedback Practitioner

Dr Cassie is a Chiropractor and Brain Health Coach. Having a special interest in treating nerves and brain-based conditions like nerve pain, chronic pain, dizziness, whiplash, migraines and fibromyalgia. She's one of a handful of practitioners to be trained in Neuro-Rehabilitation, Neurofeedback, QEEG Functional Brain Scans and Brain Health Coaching.

She’s had concussions and atypical migraines as well as a vestibular disorder called Labyrinthitis. During this time, she would hold on to tables to avoid falling over. She understands the journey coming from a family of chronic pain and migraine sufferers.

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  • Brooks MA, Peterson K, Biese K, et al. (2016). Concussion increases odds of sustaining a lower extremity musculoskeletal injury after return to play among collegiate athletes. Am J Sports Med. 2016;44:742–7.
  • Gilbert FC, Burdette GT, Joyner AB, et al (2016). Association between concussion and lower extremity injuries in collegiate athletes. Sports Health. 2016;8:561–7.
  • Howell DR, Lynall RC, Buckley TA & Herman DC (2018). Neuromuscular Control Deficits and the Risk of Subsequent Injury after a Concussion: A Scoping Review. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 48(5), 1097–1115.
  • Iverson GL, Gardner AJ, Terry DP, Ponsford JL, Sills AK, Broshek DK & Solomon GS (2017). Predictors of clinical recovery from concussion: a systematic review. Br J Sports Med. 2017 Jun; 51(12): 941–948.Published online 2017 May 31. Doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-097729
  • Lariviere K, Bureau S, Marshall C & Holahan MR (2019). Interaction between Age, Sex, and Mental Health Status as Precipitating Factors for Symptom Presentation in Concussed Individuals. J Sports Med (Hindawi Publ Corp). 2019; 2019: 9207903.Published online 2019 Dec 31. doi: 10.1155/2019/9207903
  • Lynall RC, Mauntel TC, Padua DA, et al (2015). Acute lower extremity injury rates increase after concussion in college athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015;47:2487–92.
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