Post Concussion Syndrome: What is This?

So, for an update for those that have been following my recovery, tomorrow is 6 weeks since my fall going UP my stairs in my home. 6 weeks of dealing with concussion symptoms and a frozen left shoulder. 1 day is good and you think you are heading towards recovery and the next day you are not in a good space. Basically 1 step forward and 2 steps back.

I saw my physiotherapist on Tuesday evening, my naturopath on Monday afternoon, and my family doctor yesterday morning- so, off work the next 2 months minimum. My frozen shoulder has worsened and my concussion symptoms not improving fast enough.

I now have been referred to see an osteopath who specializes or has knowledge of concussions and experience in working with patients like me. I am to begin massage therapy too to assist the muscles around the locked shoulder joint, and to ease the discomfort I am getting elsewhere in my body because I am moving and using my body differently now.

I am also to go and get another head scan to make sure all is good with my brain and nothing has changed since the first scan almost 5 weeks ago. Hmmm… (<— UPDATE-scan competed and no emergency, so no bleed)

After a TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury of which a concussion falls under, the nerve cells in the brain may no longer send information to each other the way they did before. This is why people with a TBI may have changes in their physical abilities.

A brain injury can affect physical abilities:

  • balance
  • mobility
  • coordination
  • muscle strength, tone, and control. It may also affect the body’s senses, including:
  • hearing
  • vision
  • smell
  • touch
  • taste

A TBI can cause fatigue and conditions such as seizures, spasticity, bladder, bowel, and swallowing difficulties.

Some of these effects will get better quickly, while others will take time, and still others may become a lasting problem.

Every person with a TBI has a unique set of physical effects. Each person has a unique pace of recovery.


Headaches are common following a TBI. Some people have a headache all the time, and some people’s headaches come and go. Fatigue, stress, and a history of migraines make these headaches worse. Lucky me as this is my category. I get bad headaches (tension headaches) or migraines a few times a year. When the symptoms began 12 hours after my fall, I thought I was developing a migraine.

Stretching and strengthening exercises may help. Follow the directions of the health care team.  Exercise, such as swimming in warm water, can help loosen the muscles that cause headaches. Acupuncture, occipital nerve blocks, biofeedback, Botox®, and physical therapy are possible treatments.

  • Avoid bright sunlight, especially going from a dark building into bright sunlight (may need to wear very dark sunglasses). (I just need sunglasses, any will do).
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid foods that trigger headaches. These include cold foods, aged hard cheeses, or chocolate. (Maybe this explains my NOT eating or craving chocolate lately) 😊
  • Manage stress. Take breaks during activities, practice deep breathing exercises, exercise, and have some fun. (How about a nap?)
  • Keep track of headaches in a journal. Note the time of day, the activity, and intensity of the pain. Share this information with the doctor. (I usually wake up with one or it is after I have spent time in light or been straining my eyes).

Sleep Changes:

Altered sleep patterns are very common after a TBI. This problem is usually worst in the first several weeks to months after injury. (Lucky me! On month 2 and still sleep disturbance and/or insomnia. Typically sleep by 9 pm and sleep a few hours and then up a few hours and back to sleep).

Many people with a TBI sleep during the day and are awake at night. They may nap now, when before they did not.

Stay hopeful. Most people with a TBI do usually resume a more normal sleep routine similar to the one they had before the injury.

Time, patience, and some creative problem-solving help. Developing a consistent routine, using medications on a temporary basis, and changing the bedroom can improve sleep.

 What you might see:

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Awake at night, sleeping during the day
  • Frequent naps
  • Sleeping too much or too little.

Fatigue/Loss of Stamina:

Fatigue is a common complaint among people with TBI. The body needs a vast amount of energy for healing after traumatic injuries. Sleep is often disrupted in the hospital. Usual patterns of rest and activity are often very different for many weeks to months after TBI. Confusion can make fatigue worse. Central fatigue is the major type of fatigue in TBI patients. Central fatigue affects thinking. Working harder to learn and stay focused can make your family member mentally tired. In some people, central fatigue causes them to be irritable or have headaches. (Whew, so this explains it!)

What you might see:

  • Frequent comments about being tired
  • Need for sleep after a short activity, lack of energy
  • Poor stamina
  • Extreme fatigue after a busy stretch of hours
  • Slurred speech (thankfully not in my case)
  • Irritability
  • Slower thinking speed.
  • Dizziness
  • Dizziness is a term used to describe everything from feeling faint or lightheaded to feeling weak or unsteady.
  • Under normal circumstances, your sense of balance is controlled by a number of signals that your brain receives from several locations. A TBI can disrupt this.
  • The greatest concern about dizziness is the increased tendency to fall when dizzy or lightheaded. (Luckily no MORE falls!)
  • Dizziness is often an early effect. It frequently goes away during the first weeks following injury. (uh, does 6 weeks after count? )

What you might see:

  • Complaints that the surroundings are spinning or moving (vertigo)
  • Loss of balance, unsteadiness
  • Nausea (yes)
  • Wooziness, light-headedness (Yes!)
  • Blurred vision during quick or sudden head movements.
  • Sensory Changes (Some…)
  • The brain is the center for all five of our senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.
  • When the brain is injured, each of the senses is at risk for change. There is often not much to be done about these changes in the first year after injury.
  • Doctors often use a “wait and see” approach with the hope that sensory changes will go away on their own.

For most people, the left half of the brain is responsible for verbal and logical functions including language (listening, reading, speaking, and writing), thought and memory involving words. Lucky me!!!! I hit my chin AND the left side of my jaw…

 11 Best Foods to Boost Your Brain and Memory:

  1. Fatty Fish. When people talk about brain foods, fatty fish is often at the top of the list. …(Taking orange flavored cod liver oil daily)
  2. If coffee is the highlight of your morning, you’ll be glad to hear that it’s good for you. … (I can drink coffee all times of the day now, where before my fall only before noon)
  3. Pumpkin Seeds. …(had my hubby carve up the Halloween pumpkin and roasted the seeds with some Himalayan salt)
  4. Dark Chocolate. … (Excellent as the get well gift basket from my work is all dark chocolate!) &

Post on Dr. Titus Chiu FB page : Nov. 13th, 2018

So glad to come across your book Brain Save! I fell, tripped actually, UP a flight of stairs in my home 4.5 weeks ago. Still have concussion symptoms, but they are slowly improving.

Your book makes me feel normal. I am seeing a naturopath, a physiotherapist for my shoulder-which thankfully hit the stairs before my head, and took the worst of the fall. I have been referred to a Osteopath to focus on head and neck.

I am taking organic Ginkgo Biloba, organic Tumeric and my naturopath put me on magnesium Glycinate and Natrum Sulphuricum 30ch.

All helps a bit and I have only been taking these for a week now.

I was very glad to come across the section in your book that discusses Post-Concussion Syndrome which is divided into: physical, emotional, and mental-reading all this makes me feel like although it is all up in my head, it is normal after hitting one’s head, so thank you~

I am doing physiotherapy for my shoulder, osteopath for my head and neck, massage therapy for my sore muscles elsewhere, and I keep in touch with my naturopath and family doctor as needed.

Victoria Brewster, Montreal, Canada


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