Do You Have Memory Loss Caused by Brain Damage? [infographic]

Memory loss caused by brain damage is a serious issue. Severe head trauma and brain injury often cause short-term and long-term memory loss. A person who suffers a moderate to severe brain injury may not even remember the incident that caused the injury or the events leading up to or following the injury.

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Severe Brain Injury Causing Memory Loss

Head Trauma and Brain Injury

Severe head trauma is caused by a blow to the head. It can result from a car accident, a fall, or intentional force. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a blow to the head. A brain injury may or may not lead to loss of consciousness, but it can cause changes in physical, cognitive, and emotional behaviors. Short-term effects include loss of memory usually from brain injury, as well as irritability, headaches, changes in vision and smell, facial pain, dizziness, and seizures. Symptoms usually develop within days of the injury and last for weeks or months.

Short-Term and Long-Term Memory Loss Caused by Brain Damage

Memory loss and traumatic brain injury go hand in hand. A traumatic brain injury can damage parts of the brain that control memory and learning. It can cause short-term memory loss that impacts daily life, as well as long-term memory loss that impacts past and future memories. With TBI, short-term memory loss is more common and includes common problems:

  • Forgetting the details of a conversation
  • Forgetting the car keys
  • Losing track of the time, date, or day of the week
  • Asking the same questions again and again
  • Forgetting the way home or to work
  • Forgetting what happened yesterday

Although TBI affects new memories more than old ones, people with a TBI often have difficulty retrieving correct information when needed. This could mean recognizing familiar faces, but failing to recall names or remembering to take medications, but forgetting which ones.

Memory of the Injury

People with TBI commonly have no memory of how they sustained their injury. This type of memory loss caused by brain damage is called post-traumatic amnesia and can last a few minutes or several weeks or months, depending on the severity of the brain injury. Most people who suffer post-traumatic amnesia never remember the details of their injury, since their brain never stored it as a memory.

If a traumatic brain injury is caused by another person’s negligent or reckless actions, filing a personal injury lawsuit can result in an award for injuries that include payment for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and in some cases punitive damages.

Traumatic Brain Injuries and Alzheimer’s Disease

While memory impairment can occur immediately after brain damage, some brain injuries can cause memory loss to develop over time. Scientific studies show that brain injuries can later on cause dementia. Recent studies have found links between moderate and severe TBI and an increased risk of developing dementia years after suffering the original injury.

The key studies show that people who have suffered moderate TBI are 2.3 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, than people who’ve never had head injuries. Those who’ve suffered severe TBI are 4.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Effects of Memory Loss on a Brain Injury Victim’s Life

TBI victims often experience significant changes in their lives. Memory problems can be costly in several ways. Here are some difficulties that people who have memory loss caused by brain damage may encounter:

Reduced Work Performance

When brain damage affects your brain’s recall and encoding centers, you may be unable to learn and remember new information. If you can’t learn new skills or retain new information, you may remain stuck in the job at which you’re already proficient. Your work productivity could reduce significantly if your job requires a lot of memory skills and learning.

You could lose your job if you struggle to plan, retain and act on new information or technologies, or manage a busy schedule due to brain injury. Although you may find another less demanding job, it may be lower-paying, diminishing your earning potential.

Struggling With Self-Care

Memory loss caused by brain damage can make it harder for you to take care of yourself. Confusion about dates may lead to missing appointments and failing to make important payments. The inability to recall information may make planning and organization more challenging. Keeping up with a doctor’s orders and performing other self-care behaviors may become harder. With basic functions forgotten, some victims of a TBI end up requiring regular assistance.

Strain on Relationships

Brain damage and memory difficulties can cause many disruptions and affect how you relate to others. You may forget names, important people, events, and dates, such as a loved one’s birthday. When your brain goes into survival mode to avoid living the traumatic event, loss of memory may be accompanied by emotional and behavioral problems like impulsive behavior, verbal outbursts, panic attacks, and depression. Consequently, the injury may result in an entirely different personality. Not functioning as you did before the traumatic incident can force family and friends to accept extra responsibilities and become caretakers.

Memory loss takes a psychological, emotional, and financial toll on an injured person’s loved ones. It places excessive pressure on friends and family, impacting the injury victim’s personal relationships.

Lower Academic Performance

Loss of memory, usually from brain injury, can make you struggle with your academic work. Even a mild concussion can affect academic performance. In one study, people with concussions had 25 percent lower scores in thinking and memory tests than those who didn’t have concussions.

Academic difficulties resulting from memory problems can lead to school dropouts and derailment of career prospects.

Can You File a Lawsuit If You Can’t Remember How You Sustained Your Injury?

You may not remember how you suffered your brain injury or the events before or after you suffered the injury. When the memories don’t return, that could pose challenges when filing a lawsuit or dealing with insurance companies. Nevertheless, not remembering the incident doesn’t bar you from pursuing compensation. You may be eligible to file a lawsuit and obtain the necessary compensation for your losses and new hardships.

When a brain injury prevents you from remembering what happened exactly, the evidence lined up plays a crucial role in building a strong case. Solid evidence helps prove your injuries, expenses and losses, how the incident occurred, and the other person’s recklessness or negligence that led to your memory loss, brain damage, and other injuries and damages. Gathering such evidence requires a thorough investigation of your case.

Police reports could contain information that could be helpful to your case, such as details of the events that led to your injury and witness statements and contact details. This information can help fill in the gaps left in your memory. Other forms of evidence that help support your claim when you don’t remember the details of your injury include:

  • Photographic and video evidence: Photos taken by other parties, such as the media, law enforcement, and witnesses, can help show how you sustained your injuries. Surveillance videos from nearby cameras may have captured the moments leading up to your injury.
  • Expert testimony: Experts like accident reconstructionists, neurologists, and other doctors can help assess fault and prove the severity of your brain injury and memory impairment. Your traumatic brain injury lawyer can ask your neurologist to testify about your brain injury to provide information like how the injury occurred, examinations and test results, and the injury’s effect on your overall functionality. Accident reconstructionists can help interpret event timelines, photos, and other available data.
  • Vehicle damage report: If your brain injury resulted from a car accident, the patterns of damage on the vehicles involved in the crash can help show what happened and the party that was at fault. Black box data can also provide vital evidence in accident reconstruction.
  • Eyewitness accounts: People who were present when an event occurred can give credible witness testimony.

When you have memory loss and can’t remember the event that led to your brain injury, your personal injury lawyer will conduct detailed investigations and gather the necessary evidence. That will enable him or her to prepare a case and tell your story effectively in court.