Memory Loss After a Concussion

Memory Loss After a Concussion

Injured victims rarely die from concussions. Doctors classify these injuries as mild. Most concussion patients fully recover from their symptoms within three months. While they last, however, the symptoms may cause serious physical and cognitive disabilities.

One of the most concerning symptoms of a concussion is memory loss. Amnesia from concussions can take many forms. Unfortunately for accident victims, some forms of concussion-related memory loss last forever.

What Is a Concussion?

Concussions are mild brain injuries that happen when your brain shakes inside your skull. As it moves, it collides with the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and meninges. These structures slow down the brain and prevent it from hitting the inside of your skull. However, the pressure of the CSF and meninges on your brain can damage its cells.

The damaged cells trigger the body’s inflammatory response. As your brain swells and increases in temperature, its cells malfunction, producing cognitive symptoms such as brain fog and memory loss.

Concussions may result from two types of trauma. First, head trauma can lead to a concussion. When your head suffers an impact, your brain shifts toward the impact site. As it moves, the pressure of the CSF and meninges damages it.

An example of this type of trauma happens in slip and fall accidents. As you slip, your feet slide out from under you. Your center of gravity shifts backward, and you fall. When the back of your head strikes the ground, you can suffer a concussion.

Second, rapid acceleration or deceleration can rattle your brain. This rattling can cause a concussion even if your head never hits anything. Specifically, the CSF and meninges act like packing material, holding your brain in place. To do this, they must exert pressure on it. This pressure damages brain tissues.

A common cause of these types of injuries is car accidents. When your vehicle collides with something, your body whips back and forth. Your brain tries to keep up with your body, and the CSF and meninges cushion it from slamming into your skull. Even though the brain avoids a life-threatening bruise, it still suffers minor damage from pressing against the other structures.

Contrary to what you have seen in the movies, accident victims do not forget their names after getting hit in the head. Instead, memory loss after a concussion can take a few different forms, depending on the type of memory that was affected.

Your brain has two types of memory: long-term memory and short-term memory. Short-term memory is like the RAM of a computer. It is a working memory that temporarily stores information while using it. It is limited in the amount it holds and the length of time it keeps it. For example, most people can remember seven items for a few minutes in short-term memory.

Long-term memory is like the hard drive of a computer. You perceive something and your brain encodes it in long-term storage. When you need it, the brain recalls it from storage. Doctors do not know exactly how your cells form a memory, but they believe it corresponds to a pattern of connected brain cells. As you learn something through repetition, the connections strengthen.

Amnesia can affect both short-term and long-term memory. When short-term memory is affected, you will appear forgetful. Your brain cannot encode or recall information from your working memory, so you will lose your keys or forget to close the door. This type of memory loss is rare after a concussion, but it can happen.

Amnesia can also affect long-term memory, but not in the way shown in movies. You will probably not lose your identity after a concussion simply because this injury will probably not cause enough brain damage to destroy such strong connections. However, a concussion may temporarily or permanently affect your ability to encode or recall data from long-term memory.

Based on these descriptions, you can experience any of the following forms of memory loss after a concussion:

Loss of Memories About the Accident

The most common form of memory loss after a concussion relates to the accident itself. Most people cannot remember how they got their concussions. This type of memory loss can happen due to the disruption of the encoding process during the accident.

Specifically, as the accident jostles your brain, it might be unable to process the incoming information. This is particularly true if you lost consciousness, even briefly, due to your concussion.

As a result, perceptions immediately before and during your accident are lost because they were never encoded into your brain. In other words, you cannot recall them because they are not there. This type of amnesia does not happen due to brain damage. Instead, it happens due to a glitch in the recording system during your accident.

Another type of memory loss happens as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is an anxiety disorder resulting from your brain’s need to protect you. Your brain needs to spare itself from reliving the trauma of the accident. As a result, it blocks recall of the event.

This type of amnesia is called dissociative amnesia, and it happens when your brain blocks the recall of your memories about the accident. Since the memories were encoded, therapy may unlock your brain’s ability to recall them.

Short-Term Memory Damage

The third type of memory loss after a concussion involves your brain’s ability to make new memories. Anterograde amnesia is rare and usually only affects patients temporarily. In anterograde amnesia, the concussion damages the parts of the brain that encode new memories.

Since concussions cause only minor brain damage, your brain will recover its ability to form memories as the swelling of your brain subsides and it finds a way to work around the damaged area. In rare cases, you will continue to experience problems with your memory long after your accident. This permanent short-term memory damage could cause significant impairment.

What Compensation Might Be Available For Memory Loss After a Concussion?

You may be entitled to seek compensation from any party that contributed to your concussion through negligent or wrongful actions. For example, you may have a legal claim against a driver who negligently T-boned your car and caused your concussion. Similarly, a manufacturer of a defective bicycle helmet might be liable if you suffer a concussion in a bicycle accident.

The compensation you can pursue will include both your economic and non-economic losses. Economic damages after a concussion include the medical costs of your diagnosis and therapy. You may also miss work due to your concussion symptoms. If you have anterograde amnesia, you may even need to change job duties or quit working.

Amnesia can significantly affect your quality of life. As a result, you may also seek non-economic damages for the mental anguish and disabilities resulting from your memory loss.

Get Help From an Experienced Florida Concussion Injury Lawyer Today 

If you are experiencing concussion-related amnesia, contact the personal injury lawyers at Roman Austin for a free consultation to discuss the compensation you can seek. Call us at (727) 787-2500.