Brain Injuries and Memory Loss: Perspective From a Virginia Head Trauma Attorney | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

All types of head trauma, from concussions to skull fractures so severe that they expose the brain, can leave accident victims struggling to recover past memories and learn new information. Such cognition problems can negatively affect every facet of a person’s life and make it difficult or impossible to work, maintain relationships, and, sometimes, perform the basic activities of daily living.

In short, head and brain injuries rob too many people of their most precious assets and abilities. Losing long-term memories changes one’s personality and weakens friendships and family bonds. Suddenly becoming unable to form short-term memories creates difficulties with engaging in meaningful conversations, keeping appointments, and running errands.

Head and brain injury victims may also make poor advocates for themselves. They rarely recall details of their accident, and they can become overwhelmed by seemingly minor details and paperwork. This sets them up for being denied insurance settlements or winning personal injury lawsuits on technicalities. As much as they need to know they can count on friends and family, TBI victims may also benefit greatly from receiving advice and representation from caring, experienced personal injury lawyers.

Brain injuries, whether caused by trauma, disease, or other factors, can have a profound impact on memory function. Memory loss is a common consequence of brain injuries, and it can range from mild to severe, affecting various aspects of an individual’s life.

Types of Memory Loss Associated with Brain Injuries

Anterograde Amnesia

Anterograde amnesia is one of the most common types of memory loss associated with brain injuries. It refers to the inability to form new memories after the injury occurs. Individuals with anterograde amnesia may struggle to remember recent events, conversations, or experiences. This can significantly impact their ability to function in daily life and maintain relationships.

Retrograde Amnesia

Retrograde amnesia involves the loss of memories that were formed before the brain injury occurred. Depending on the severity and location of the injury, retrograde amnesia can affect memories from minutes, hours, or even years prior to the injury. The extent of retrograde amnesia can vary from person to person.

Short-Term Memory Loss

Short-term memory is responsible for holding and processing information temporarily. Brain injuries can impair short-term memory, making retaining and recalling recent information difficult. This can lead to forgetfulness, repetition of questions or statements, and difficulty following conversations.

Long-Term Memory Loss

Long-term memory encompasses memories formed over an extended period, including events from one’s distant past, personal experiences, and factual knowledge. Brain injuries may affect long-term memory by causing gaps or distortions in a person’s recollection of their own life history.

Working Memory Impairment

Working memory is responsible for holding and manipulating information for cognitive tasks, such as problem-solving and decision-making. Brain injuries can disrupt working memory, leading to difficulties in complex mental processes.

Causes of Memory Loss in Brain Injuries

Physical Damage

Brain injuries, especially traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), often involve physical damage to brain tissue. This damage can disrupt the normal functioning of memory-related brain structures, such as the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.

Shear Injuries

Shear injuries occur when different parts of the brain move at different speeds during an impact, causing damage to the connections between brain cells. These disruptions can affect the transfer of information between brain regions critical for memory.

Hemorrhage and Swelling

Brain injuries may lead to bleeding or swelling in the brain, increasing intracranial pressure. Elevated pressure can compromise blood flow to memory-related areas, further impairing memory function.

Chemical Changes

Brain injuries can trigger chemical imbalances in the brain, including neurotransmitter disruptions. These chemical changes can interfere with the processes involved in memory formation and retrieval.