Brain injury and memory loss

Written on behalf of Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

When California doctors informed you that your loved one had suffered a traumatic brain injury resulting from someone else’s negligence, you may have wondered what your future would look like. Brain injuries are among the most challenging for doctors since the brain is such a complex organ. Depending on the area of the brain affected by the injury, your loved one may be facing cognitive issues that are irreversible, including memory deficits.

Having a loved one with memory issues often means drastic changes in the way a household runs. You can no longer take for granted that your loved one knows how to do essential tasks from day to day or even that your loved one will remember who you are. Understanding how a brain injury can affect memory is the first step to learning how to cope and compensate for your loved one’s deficits.

How memory works

Memory actually involves four different components, each relying on a different area of the brain, including:

  • Long-term: These are the memories of your childhood, your education and your life experiences.
  • Short-term: Your brain briefly stores these memories from recent moments, hours or days, then releases them or keeps them in your long-term memory.
  • Sensory: Almost without you realizing, your brain calls on memories from your senses in a fraction of a second to help process information about what you perceive.
  • Procedural: These are memories of things you know how to do, such as tying your shoes, cooking breakfast, driving a car or walking without falling.

A memory deficit may not be obvious at first, but as your loved one recovers from the accident, you may notice that he or she has trouble following a conversation, loses common objects more frequently, gets lost in familiar places or can’t remember what day it is. Unfortunately, these memory deficits may not improve, even with cognitive exercises.

Coping with memory loss

Your loved one may feel your frustration, or the injury may prevent him or her from even remembering that there is a memory deficit. You may find yourself carrying the responsibility for establishing methods of compensating for that memory loss. For example, you may remind your loved one to write things down, use reminder apps on the phone or leave notes in conspicuous places. Keeping your loved one healthy and well rested may prevent episodes of frustration.

Taking advantage of every available resource is also a good idea. This includes reaching out for medical, psychological and legal advice for your options for pursuing the most optimistic future for you and your loved one.

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