It is a misconception that concussions can be mild or minor. A concussion is the actual event which caused injury to the brain. The symptoms can range from mild to severe. When concussion symptoms do not resolve within a week or two of disrupted function, the label Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS) is then applied. They used to be categorized as simple or complex. In 2009, conditions types changed from simple concussion and complex concussion to acute concussion and post concussion syndrome respectively.
Acute concussion, formerly referred to as simple concussion, is a temporary disruption of brain function that results in an alteration or loss of consciousness, and one or more of the memory symptoms listed in the Concussion Symptoms table below. Acute concussions are typically characterized by having mild symptoms that spontaneously resolve within two weeks with rest and proper diet, and generally do not result in complications or health risks. With this type of concussion, symptoms are generally treated by a primary care physician (PCP), certified athletic trainer or coach working together with a PCP.
Post Concussion Syndrome
Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS), formerly referred to as complex concussion, is characterized by persistent symptoms and can affect brain function. The symptoms are often debilitating and continue for weeks, months and years. Sometimes the effects are permanent. With PCS, there is an increased risk for complications, such as swelling or bleeding in the brain, seizures and convulsions.
Multiple Concussions – Second Impact Syndrome and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
When a person suffers from multiple concussions, it is unlikely that natural and spontaneous healing will take place. Repeated brain injuries, including multiple concussions, can cause cumulative effects on the brain and have severe outcomes. There is an increased risk of more serious brain injury if a second one is sustained before being completely recovered from the first. Multiple concussions are divided into two categories: second impact syndrome (SIS) and Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Second impact syndrome occurs when a second concussion is sustained before symptoms of a first have resolved. The second impact, which could take place minutes, days or weeks after the first concussion, causes the brain to swells rapidly, and catastrophically, often resulting in death or severe disability. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a progressive neurodegenerative brain disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma. CTE has been linked to boxers, football and hockey players, and military veterans. CTE evolves slowly over decades. Symptoms often begin years after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic or military participation. Common symptoms of CTE include aggression, memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, depression, suicidality, and progressive dementia.