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Memory Loss After a Concussion

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Memory Loss After a Concussion

Memory-Loss-After-a-ConcussionYour skull acts as a protective case for your brain, shielding it from the stresses of everyday life. However, your skull can’t protect your brain from everything. If you sustain a serious blow to your head, your brain can move abruptly enough that it becomes damaged.

This kind of brain injury is called a concussion, and it sometimes results in memory loss. Here’s what you need to know about post-concussion memory loss.

How Do Concussions Happen?

Anything that can cause the brain to hit the skull with significant force can cause a concussion.

These are some of the most common concussion causes:

There’s no way to ensure you won’t suffer a concussion. However, if you take safety precautions — like wearing protective gear while playing contact sports or wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle — you may be able to reduce your risk.

Why Do Concussions Cause Memory Loss?

How Do Concussions Happen? After a concussion, it makes sense that you may experience physical symptoms like headaches. However, the way concussions cause memory loss is less clear. To understand how a head injury can cause memory loss, you first need to know how your brain stores memories.

When encoding what we might think of as a single memory, the brain breaks up that memory into pieces. For example, when you go on a hike with a friend, your brain might store the scent of the mountain air in one place, the sound of a creek in another, and the image of a strange mushroom in yet another.

However, when you think back to that hike, your brain effectively collects those fragments to piece together the whole memory. That involves a significant amount of communication between different regions of your brain.

Normally, that communication isn’t an issue. But after a concussion, your brain experiences inflammation. Inflammation gets in the way of that communication.

Think of your brain as a network of highways — it uses those highways to connect its different regions. Inflammation causes roadblocks on some of those highways, and those roadblocks might prevent you from reconstructing memories.

How Long Does Memory Loss Persist After a Concussion?

In some cases, you can suffer a concussion with no memory loss at all. Depending on the severity of the concussion, you might experience temporary or chronic memory loss.

Physicians generally divide concussions into three grades of severity.

The grades are determined by loss of consciousness and memory loss:

  • Grade I: No loss of consciousness and memory loss for 30 minutes or less
  • Grade II: Loss of consciousness for less than five minutes and/or memory loss from 30 minutes to 24 hours
  • Grade III: Loss of consciousness for more than five minutes and/or memory loss for over 24 hours

After a severe concussion, memory loss can become a recurring issue. If you have had more than one concussion, you’re more likely to experience longer-term side effects.

Do Concussions Cause Short-Term Memory Loss or Long-Term Memory Loss?

Concussions can potentially cause both short-term and long-term memory loss. If you suffer a severe concussion, you might experience one or both types.

Short-Term Memory Loss

Short-term memory loss — also called anterograde amnesia — means you can’t remember new information but can remember things that happened before the injury.

For example, if you have short-term memory loss, you might not be able to tell a friend what happened in a chapter of a book you just read. However, you could tell that same friend all about a beach vacation you took before your injury.

These are some of the possible symptoms of short-term memory loss:

  • Getting confused about the current date or time
  • Having trouble remembering events or conversations that recently occurred
  • Having trouble remembering the names and faces of people you’ve just met

As you might imagine, this kind of amnesia can have a serious negative impact on your daily life. When you can’t remember things you’ve just learned, you might experience issues with speaking, writing, reading, or even just handling day-to-day tasks.

Long-Term Memory Loss

This is what most people imagine when they think of amnesia, and it’s the type most often depicted in movies and TV shows. With long-term memory loss (also called retrograde amnesia), you have no trouble making new memories, but you have trouble recalling some of your older memories.

Here are some common symptoms:

  • Trouble recalling things that happened before your injury
  • Inability to recall basic facts/general knowledge
  • Difficulty remembering faces and names

How far back your retrograde amnesia goes can vary. For instance, many people with this condition cannot remember things that happened several years before the injury. However, they might be able to recall very old memories (like events that occurred in childhood).

Do You Regain Your Memory After a Concussion?

The good news is that for most people, memory returns in the days or weeks following a concussion. However, in rare cases, memory loss may be permanent. The more severe your concussion, the greater the risk for permanent (or at least long-lasting) amnesia.

If you want to fix your memory loss and reduce your risk of long-term complications, you should avoid anything that involves thinking or concentrating for at least two days. Even seemingly easy activities like texting can make symptoms worse.

Sleep is also important after a concussion. Your brain consolidates memories when you sleep, and when you get enough rest, you make sure your brain maintains the energy it needs to store new information.

If you’ve suffered a concussion, make sure you see a doctor as soon as possible after the injury and follow your doctor’s advice for recovery. A qualified medical professional will be able to help you maximize your chances of making a full recovery and getting your memory back.

Have You Suffered a Concussion in NYC?

Plenty of people have the misconception that concussions are minor injuries. However, as you’ve seen, a concussion can lead to memory loss and other potentially serious consequences. And if another person’s negligence caused your concussion, you deserve competent legal representation.

At the Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers, we’re committed to seeking justice for our clients. If you didn’t cause your injury, you shouldn’t be left to deal with the consequences of it alone. Fill out our web form, give us a call at (212) 564 2800 or stop by our New York City office to set up a free consultation.

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