Specificity of postconcussion symptoms at 3 months after mild traumatic brain injury: results from a comparative cohort study

J Head Trauma Rehabil. Jan-Feb 2014;29(1):E28-36. doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e318280f896.


Objective: To assess the specificity of symptoms included in various symptom lists used to identify postconcussion syndrome (PCS), by using follow-up data comparing patients with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) and control patients during the month prior to injury and 3 months later.

Setting: The adult emergency department of a teaching hospital in Bordeaux, France.

Participants: A cohort of patients with MTBI (n = 536) and a comparison group with nonhead injuries (n = 946).

Main measures: Postconcussion symptoms listed in the Rivermead Postconcussion Symptoms Questionnaire (RPQ), the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), and the 10th International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10).

Results: Analyses were performed comparing symptom occurrence in patients with MTBI and controls, before and 3 months after injury. Eight symptoms were identified as being specific to MTBI: headache, dizziness, intolerance of stress, forgetfulness, poor concentration, taking longer to think, blurred vision, and personality change.

Conclusion: The relevance of symptoms proposed to constitute PCS should be reviewed. A more specific definition of PCS would make diagnosis easier and facilitate prevention as well as treatment of patients with MTBI.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Brain Injuries / psychology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • France
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires