Concussion, cognitive fatigue and its treatment

Cognitive fatigue is one of the most common, difficult, symptoms of concussion - what is the best treatment?

Nearly 2 million mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) occur each year in the United States alone, with concussion being a world-wide issue for healthcare management.

One of the main symptoms associated with mTBI is cognitive fatigue - defined as “a subjective lack of physical and/ or mental energy that is perceived by the individual or caregiver to interfere with usual and desired activities.”

This article focuses the sources of primary fatigue, directly related to the mTBI, whereas secondary cognitive fatigue is related to poor sleep and resulting in day-time fatigue. 

While a lot of approaches have been taken in helping to manage mTBI fatigue, the current research remains clear on the fact that no single intervention is the key to overcoming its symptoms.

Even with the use of medication, this is not the sole approach, and a multi-disciplinary approach is needed to best support cognitive fatigue following mTBI.

> From: Wylie et al., Concussion 2 (2017) CNC50 . All rights reserved to The Author(s). Click here for the online summary.

Expert opinion

The components of concussion management are highly dependent on the health care community that the patient is assessed in.

While the literature remains clear about the need for functional, medical, and psychological input, many healthcare systems remain ?siloed? in their approach of just one of these 3.

However, some places around the world, such as New Zealand, are taking an approach of having a neurological screening done by a physiotherapist (or occupational therapist) as well as a neurologist and neuropsychologist for a collaborative treatment plan.

With the emerging evidence, hopefully this multidisciplinary approach will continue to spread worldwide.

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