(210) 529-3000

What’s the Difference Between a Concussion and Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Written by Tom Crosley
Jul 26, 2021 Brain Injuries, Catastrophic Personal Injury, Personal Injury
  1. 1. Key Definitions
  2. 2. Concussions Are a Type of Traumatic Brain Injury
  3. 3. What Is Post-Concussion Syndrome?
  4. 4. Car Crashes Are a Leading Cause of Concussions and Post-Concussion Syndrome
  5. 5. How are Concussion and Post-Concussion Syndrome Symptoms Different?
  6. 6. 3 Ways to Improve Outcomes After Suffering a Concussion
  7. 7. Contact the Experienced TBI Attorneys at Crosley law

What’s the Difference Between a Concussion and Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Head injuries are common in car crashes, and many victims must deal with changes to their mental well-being. Troubles from head trauma can last a few weeks or stick around long-term, but even a mild head injury can force victims to withdraw from regular day-to-day activities.

Hundreds of thousands of people experience a traumatic head injury (TBI) every year, so naturally, there are lots of terms used to describe them and their symptoms. The most common of these are “concussions” and “post-concussion syndrome.” Understanding the differences between these names can be confusing but essential for you and your family members following an accident.

In this article, we’ll explain the difference between a concussion and post-concussion syndrome. We’ll also describe how these head injuries can affect individuals involved in personal injury claims.

Key Definitions

  • Traumatic Brain Injury: A blow, jolt, or penetration to the head resulting in swelling, bleeding, and other brain damage.
  • Concussion: A mild traumatic brain injury. Symptoms are typically not life-threatening and resolve within a month.
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome: A condition in which concussion symptoms persist after the brain has healed.

Concussions Are a Type of Traumatic Brain Injury

A concussion is a mild head injury caused by an impact to the head that damages the brain. In medicine, concussions are often called mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI). Telling a patient that they have an mTBI can be alarming, so doctors often use the term “concussion.”

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury to your head or upper torso, please be aware of the following immediate symptoms of a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury.

  • Loss of consciousness under 30 minutes
  • Temporary inability to remember post-crash events (anterograde amnesia)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches, blurry vision, and dizziness
  • Confusion and disorientation

Many patients will stop seeing symptoms one month after a head trauma, with a full recovery inside of three months. However, more than 30% of concussion victims suffer through symptoms that last longer than six months past the initial injury.

VIDEO: FAQs: Headaches After Head Injuries

What Is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

When victims experience concussion-like symptoms for longer than a month, a doctor might diagnose them with post-concussion syndrome (PCS). PCS is the occurrence of concussion symptoms long after the victim sustained the initial head injury.

Persistent Concussion Symptoms in Post-Concussion Syndrome

Symptoms of PCS are often the same as those that occur in the first few weeks after a head trauma. The difference is that the effects on brain function persist past the point the victim should have recovered from a concussion.

These symptoms often include:

  • Headaches, blurry vision, and dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Insomnia and fatigue
  • Irritability, moodiness, or anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Ringing ears
  • Memory loss

RELATED: Headaches After a Car Accident: Why Won’t They Go Away

Common Risk Factors of Post-Concussion Syndrome

While the reasons only some mTBI victims experience post-concussion syndrome isn’t fully understood, neurologists have identified a few common traits and risk factors.

Studies have shown that many victims with PCS:

  • Experienced a more severe head injury
  • Tend to be older adults and female
  • Have pre-existing psychological issues
  • Have a history of migraines or neurological issues
  • Suffered previous head injuries

Car Crashes Are a Leading Cause of Concussions and Post-Concussion Syndrome

Car accidents are one of the most common ways people get TBIs. Around 25% of all trips to the hospital for a TBI are because of a car crash. While anyone who is involved in a wreck can suffer a brain injury (even if they’re wearing a seatbelt and following all of Texas’ safety rules), pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists are especially vulnerable.

Vulnerable road user and pedestrian injuries are on the rise and becoming more severe. In 2020, even though there were fewer cars on the road, pedestrian fatalities rose by more than 20%—the largest annual increase on record. Similarly, bicycle fatalities are up. Between 2010 and 2018, bicycle fatalities increased by 37%. Many of these injuries involve brain trauma—and these numbers don’t include cases where the injuries were less severe, but life-changing.

Speeding and distracted driving are contributing to this tragic spike. But even our vehicle preferences can affect pedestrian and biker safety. Between 2009 and 2016, there was an 81% increase in pedestrian accidents involving large passenger vehicles, like SUVs. While a car might push someone aside, the same situation with an SUV could be much more serious. SUVs have a higher front end, so they can easily cause direct head trauma when they hit a pedestrian or bike rider.

RELATED: Hit by a Delivery Driver, a Pedestrian Gets a Settlement

How are Concussion and Post-Concussion Syndrome Symptoms Different?

The primary difference between a concussion and post-concussion syndrome is how long the symptoms last after the head trauma. However, the effect these two conditions can have on you is very similar. Both can cause significant physical, psychological, and financial hardships. These hardships tend to build up the longer the symptoms persist, taking additional tolls on your health and quality of life.

For instance, the cognitive and emotional side effects of a mild traumatic brain injury can make working impossible. The longer you are out of work, the more financial burden you will experience, increasing psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression, or irritability.

The uncertainty associated with persistent concussion symptoms is also challenging. If you’re living with post-concussion syndrome, people might question the severity of your symptoms. The insurance company and its doctors might even argue that your brain scans are “within normal limits,” suggesting that you’re exaggerating your symptoms. This can weigh heavily on you and complicate your personal injury claims.

3 Ways to Improve Outcomes After Suffering a Concussion

1. See a Doctor Immediately

You should always see a doctor immediately after a car crash, especially if you are experiencing any signs of a head injury. Severe symptoms could lead your health care provider to order a CT scan. This test can check for physical signs of a problem, like bleeding or swelling in the brain. However, not every medical professional will order such a thorough scan without drastic signs of mental impairment like a loss of consciousness.

It’s possible that a doctor might diagnose you with a concussion and send you home with orders to take it easy for a few days. If you see problems like memory issues or sleep problems sticking around for several weeks or worsening, you should return to your doctor. They might diagnose you with post-concussion syndrome or refer you to a specialist, like a neuropsychologist, for more testing.

RELATED: Identifying an Undiagnosed Traumatic Brain Injury

2. Consult a Neuropsychologist

If you’re struggling to cope with the side effects of an mTBI, a neuropsychologist might be able to help. Neuropsychologists understand how brain injuries can affect behavior. They can assess how severe your injury is and how it will affect your nervous system. After they evaluate you, they’ll be able to offer suggestions for treatment and coping strategies — whether your condition is short-term or permanent.

Our lawyers frequently work with neuropsychologists and other experts. For example, we represented Julia, a San Antonio teacher, after another vehicle T-boned her car. After the crash, she suffered from severe headaches, ringing in her ears, memory loss, and dizzy spells. While the insurance company’s doctors argued that she was “fine,” a neuropsychologist documented her memory loss and decision-making difficulties.

This evidence helped us negotiate $329,000 in total settlements for Julia. After paying her attorney’s fees and legal costs, Julia received $185,955.

3. Work with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

The physical, emotional, and financial toll of a traumatic brain injury can be extensive. If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI after being the victim of a car crash or other personal injury incident, you’ll want to file a personal injury claim to recover financial compensation.

TBI cases can be complicated since it’s sometimes difficult to prove a brain injury or calculate how the injury will affect your life moving forward. Therefore, it’s crucial that you hire an attorney with experience — not just in car accident personal injury claims — but specifically with brain injury claims.

Contact the Experienced TBI Attorneys at Crosley law

At Crosley Law, we understand the difficulties and nuances of brain injury cases and how to explain and support these claims in court. Our law firm has knowledge of complex medical fields like neuroradiology, neuropsychology, and neurology. Due to our recognized experience in traumatic brain injury litigation, other lawyers frequently refer brain injury victims to our firm.

It can be difficult to understand every cost that comes with your accident. We can help identify expenses from accidents, both those you’ve already had to pay and those you’ll be facing far into the future. Hospital bills, medical devices, lost income, and permanent injury costs can all find a home in your claim.

Additionally, we regularly work with doctors and specialists on the cutting edge of neuroscience to prove our clients’ injuries and the impact their condition will have on their life and wellbeing in the future. We can even help clients get the treatment and rehabilitation they need.

If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion or other traumatic brain injury after a car crash, contact the attorneys at Crosley Law. Call us at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or complete this brief online contact form to get started today with a free consultation.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Surveillance Report of Traumatic Brain Injury-related Hospitalizations and Deaths by Age Group, Sex, and Mechanism of Injury—United States, 2016 and 2017. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/pdf/TBI-surveillance-report-2016-2017-508.pdf

Edwards, E. (2021, May 21). ‘Mind-boggling’: Pedestrian deaths surged in 2020, despite fewer cars on the road. NBC News. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/mind-boggling-pedestrian-deaths-surged-2020-despite-fewer-cars-road-n1267910

Flax, P. (2019, November 13). The Actual Reasons More Cyclists Are Dying on the Streets. Bicycling. Retrieved from https://www.bicycling.com/culture/a29762318/why-more-cyclists-are-dying/

Justin H., John E. (2007). The Problem of Pedestrian Injuries and Fatalities. ASU Center for Problem-Oriented Policing. Retrieved from https://popcenter.asu.edu/content/pedestrian-injuries-fatalities-0

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017, July 28). Post-concussion syndrome. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-concussion-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20353352

Nitin A., Rut T., Khoi T. (2020, February 3). Traumatic Brain Injury. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Retrieved from https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Traumatic-Brain-Injury

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, The Highway Loss Data Institute. (2018, May 8). Study highlights rising pedestrian deaths, points toward solutions. Retrieved from https://www.iihs.org/news/detail/study-highlights-rising-pedestrian-deaths-points-toward-solutions

Sharp, D.J., & Jenkins, P.O. (14 May, 2015). Concussion is confusing us all. Practical Neurology, vol15(3), 172-186. doi:10.1136/practneurol-2015-001170. Retrieved from https://pn.bmj.com/content/15/3/172.full

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Website | + posts

Related Articles

View All Blog Articles

Do you or a family member
need legal advice?

Crosley Law Firm, PC is a professional corporation of trial lawyers focused on representing individuals and families who have suffered serious personal injuries or wrongful death.

We Can Help

Request Your Free Consultation
  • This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

    * Required
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

Office Locations and Contact Info