Traumatic Brain Injuries and Memory Loss

Dec 27


Peter Kent

Peter Kent

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Patients who suffer from traumatic brain injuries often also suffer from memory loss. This condition could be very temporary, but it could also be permanent. A brain injury where the brain is pushed against the edge of the skull, causing swelling which leads to temporary memory loss. Another type of brain damage is when the actual nerves are damaged, which causes permanent memory loss.


Memory loss or some type of amnesia is the most commonplace cognitive side effect of a traumatic brain injury. This memory amnesia can be caused by several different factors,Traumatic Brain Injuries and Memory Loss Articles some which lead to more mild temporary memory loss, and some which can lead to permanent brain damage accompanied by memory loss.

Temporary Memory Loss and TBI

Some traumatic brain injury-related amnesia is temporary; such patients are usually unable to recall what happened directly before, during and after their accidents. This is often caused by the brain swelling as an effect of the sustained damage; this is also known as an edema. Because the brain is pressed against the skull, parts that were not injured are still not able to work. As the swelling goes down, the patient's memory returns, often slowly over a period of weeks, months or even years. Some patients who suffered from a traumatic brain injury may respond emotionally by experiencing temporary memory loss.

Other, less common, types of memory loss stemming from traumatic brain injury are fixed. These result from damage to the nerves and axons (connections between nerves) of the brain itself. The brain is not durable like a leg or an arm, so any part of the brain that is damaged during a TBI causing functions to be impaired could be permanently impaired, unless the brain learns another way of performing that function. Fixed amnesia may include inability to remember events before the injury, or loss of memory of the meanings of certain things, such as words or smells or objects. Although it is not as common, a victim of a TBI may not remember skills that he or she had before the injury was sustained.

Brain Damage and Anteretrograde Amnesia

A patient with TBI may also develop anteretrograde amnesia -- an inability to form memories of events that happened after the injury. The reason for this is not well understood, but an October 2006 study by researchers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found that TBIs reduce the levels of a protein in the brain that helps it balance its activity. Without enough of that protein, the brain can "overload," the researchers said, interfering with memory formation, particularly the ability to learn new things.

Treatment Options for Traumatic Brain Injury Patients with Amnesia

There is no treatment for memory loss caused by a traumatic brain injury; if the memory does not come back on its own, it is gone forever. Fortunately, a study published in the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology called Neurology depicted encouraging results in patients suffering from TBIs with anteretrograde memory loss who took a drug called rivastigmine. The drug, which is sold to Alzheimer's disease patients under the brand name Exelon, helped patients with moderate to severe memory loss score better on memory tests than another group of patients that took placebos. The results were not as good for patients who had only mild memory loss. If you suffer from traumatic brain injury-related memory problems, you may wish to contact an experienced TBI attorney to discuss your options, which may include filing a brain injury lawsuit in order to gain compensation for your medical costs.