Only a small percentage of those who suffer a concussion will experience persistent symptoms lasting more than a week, but for those who do endure what is referred to as Post Concussive Syndrome (PCS) the lingering symptoms can be debilitating.
While anyone with a concussion can possibly also suffer from PCS, data suggests that teenage girls are the most vulnerable to long-term symptoms such as headaches and dizziness that characterize PCS.
Coincidentally, teens who are under a large amount of stress to excel in school, or who deal with high levels of anxiety or worry, are also more susceptible to PCS.
The symptom will often not be diagnosed for weeks after the injury, as it is difficult to establish exactly when PCS grows out of a brain injury, but the patients often endure fatigue, dizziness, and headaches daily until diagnosed.
So what differs between how doctors manage an “average” concussion compared to PCS? Patients are still encouraged to rest their bodies and brains, stay in low-lit rooms, and generally avoid exertion. However, it is believed many with PCS are also spending a lot of time in front of various LCD screens which can contribute to the prolonged headaches.
While almost all of us spend time in front of LCD screens, none of us notice the constant flickering at roughly 30 Hz which allows the screen to update new information such as scrolling, mouse movement, or to show video. The flickering is invisible to the naked eye, but it also strains our eye muscles as they attempt to keep up with the new information. This is exactly why sitting in front of the computer too long can give the average user headaches, and this becomes compounded by PCS.
It isn’t just computer screens that function this way either. TV’s and cellphones all run on LCD screens, which means many of us are constantly surrounded by screens which strain our eyes. For the majority, this isn’t an issue, but for those with a brain injury this can be a big issue. It doesn’t help that those with brain injury often deal with distraction and general trouble reading, which make patients stare more intently at the screen they are reading.
As a result of this, Gayatri Devi, M.D., Neurologist and Director of the New York Memory Services, has constructed a specific list of rules to help PCS patients recover more quickly by moving away from the screens.
- No screens of any kind, including movie screens, computers, and phones. This can be hard for teens and many adults, but it can cut down on symptom length exponentially and give your eyes the relaxation needed for healing.
- No texting/reading while in cars. Even reading actual books or texts in cars can put just as much strain on your eyes as the car movement causes the text to bounce around and make our eyes chase after it.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. It allows your eyes and brain to better preserve the information you are taking in, and relaxes the sore muscles contributing to brain injury.
- Reduced to no homework during PCS period, which may already occur following brain injury.