About Concussions and Related Brain Injuries

The Cantu Concussion Center specializes in the evaluation and treatment of three concussive brain injuries: concussions, post-concussion syndrome (PCS), and symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).


Concussion comes from the Latin word “concussus,” which means “to violently shake.”

The Cantu Concussion Center defines a concussion as “a trauma-induced change in mental status.” It is a broad definition for a hard-to-diagnose injury with a wide range of signs and symptoms, including:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Balance and/or
    visual problems
  • Dizzy spells
  • Sensitivity to
    light and/or noise
  • Fatigue and/or
    low energy
  • Depression
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Troubles with memory
  • Feeling mentally slow or as
    in a fog that will not lift
Sleep Disturbance
  • Sleeping more or
    less than usual
  • Trouble falling asleep

Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS)

Post-Concussion Syndrome, or PCS, is the name given to concussions that last an unusually long time and challenge patients with unusually intense symptoms. The symptoms of PCS are the same as for concussion, but more severe and longer-lasting.

Most concussions resolve in seven to ten days and athletes return to their normal activities in two weeks. Approximately 20 percent are post-concussion syndrome cases. Symptoms last at least a month and can persist much longer.

Because the symptoms—especially sleep difficulties—are so severe and can last for months, some patients develop depression or other psychological disturbances.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people exposed over many years to repetitive brain trauma. This trauma can include concussions, and/or the thousands of subconcussive blows that athletes absorb over a lifetime of participating in sports like hockey or football.

These jolts to the brain can trigger the buildup of a an abnormal, hyperphospholated form of protein called tau. These are toxic abnormal proteins that form plaques that block passageways in the brain, killing brain cells. The process is similar to the one that takes place in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

Patients who were strong, independent, and in command prior to exhibiting symptoms of CTE can develop cognitive, behavioral, or mood-altering symptoms, becoming upset or violent, having panic attacks, and can suffer from other symptoms, including:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Impaired judgment
  • Paranoia
  • Impulse control problems
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Progressive dementia