Concussion in Parkinson’s Disease Patients

A concussion usually occurs after severe head trauma and this may be a possibility in the end stages of Parkinson’s disease when patients are more prone to falls. Depending on the extent of the head trauma, a concussion may vary in its presentation and is often ignored after an injury, although the full effect may only be realized a day or two after the trauma. In terms of Parkinson’s disease, there is greater difficulty in identifying a possible concussion since some of the Parkinson’s disease symptoms may blur or mask the signs of a concussion.

Concussion Symptoms

The main symptoms of a concussion include memory loss, confusion, changes in balance and coordination, headaches, dizziness, changes in the senses like blurred vision and ringing in the ears and fatigue. Long terms symptoms of a concussion include difficulties in concentrating, problems with sleep, mood changes and depression. As is evident, most of these symptoms are present in Parkinson’s disease, especially at the latter stages of Parkinson’s disease or a result of long term use of Parkinson’s drugs. Since the disease and a concussion may appear so similar, it is important to take note of other aspects like Parkinson’s symptoms that are suddenly aggravated or the appearance of new symptoms which should not just be attributed to progression of Parkinson’s disease. Post concussion syndrome is a condition whereby the symptoms of a concussion may exist for a long period of time, weeks or months, and could also be mistaken for symptoms of Parkinson’s disease long after sustaining a severe head injury.

Concussion Tests & Complications

In the event of a severe fall or head injury, it is important to consider further tests to rule out any possible complications that may arise from a concussion. A CT scan is the main diagnostic investigation conducted after a concussion and it is important to note that even if a patient does not lose consciousness (faint) as a result of the head trauma, they could still sustain a concussion. In the event that immediate medical attention is not sought and the symptoms of a concussion are noted or the patient experiences seizures, a CT scan should still be considered. Complications of a concussion usually involves serious neurological symptoms which may mistaken for Parkinson’s disease and proper emergency care is necessary in instances of a fall or injury.

Since Parkinson’s disease occurs more in the elderly, who are prone to falls and injuries, extra caution should be paid when in the bath tub, walking around unassisted or lying in a bed. Parkinson’s patients, specifically those in institutions, may be victims of abuse which is on the increase among caregivers of the elderly and debilitated. Friends and relatives of a Parkinson’s patient who is an institution should be cautious of any reports of falls, injuries or assault as many institutions may ignore these incidents and not consider further diagnostic investigation after sustaining an injury. If caring for a Parkinson’s patient, it is advisable to take the necessary measures to prevent injuries which may lead to a concussion as a Parkinson’s patient already has to contend with a degenerative disease and complications should be avoided as far as possible.

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