How is postconcussion syndrome (PCS) defined?

Updated: Sep 24, 2018
  • Author: Eric L Legome, MD; Chief Editor: Trevor John Mills, MD, MPH  more...
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Although no universally accepted definition of postconcussion syndrome exists, most of the literature defines the syndrome as the development of at least 3 of the following symptoms: headache, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, impaired memory and concentration, insomnia, and lowered tolerance for noise and light. Confusion exists in the literature, with some authors defining it as symptoms of at least 3 months' duration, while others define it as symptoms appearing within the first week. In this article, the syndrome is loosely defined as symptom occurrence and persistence within several weeks after the initial insult. In defining persistent postconcussive syndrome (PPCS), most authors use greater than one month, and still others use 6 months or a year. However, it generaly applies to ongoing chronic symptoms that continue past expected resolution.

In a study of patients aged 5 to younger than 18 years who presented with acute head injury in pediatric emergency departments, 801 of 2584 patients (31%) experienced PPCS, or acute concussion followed by ongoing somatic, cognitive, and psychological or behavioral symptoms. [5]

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