Understanding Temporary or Permanent Memory Loss After Sustaining a Concussion

When someone suffers a concussion it is considered a mild brain injury. From a medical perspective, evidence of a mild brain injury includes loss of memory, including being unable to recall the accident or events before or after the accident. The concern is whether the consequences of the brain injury will be temporary or permanent. Either can create significant problems for the victim.

The brain is divided into the right and left hemisphere as well as four lobes (frontal, occipital, parietal and temporal). The temporal lobe is on the sides of the head just above the ears. It controls functions such as hearing, language, comprehension and memory. Memory loss after a head injury indicates the person may have suffered damage to the temporal lobe of the brain.

The vast majority of people suffering memory loss will show steady improvement over time. Most will recover within the first year. However, there are is a minority of up to 15% of people who will have permanent loss of memory.

Memory loss is essentially divided into two areas. Short-term memory is commonly referred to as our working memory. We hold information in our short-term memory while we are working with it and before it is transferred to our long-term memory. Long-term memory is our brain’s process for storing, managing and retrieving information. You might think of short-term memory as the ability to recall what you’re reading on this page, conversations or events while they are occurring, or why you’re walking across the room to retrieve something. Since each of us relies upon our memory in order to function day to day, including earning a living, loss of short-term or long-term memory can be quite debilitating.

Sometimes these losses are more readily noticed by family, coworkers and friends since the brain injured person may not be aware of what they are unable to recall. Some losses appear more subtle, others may be much more noticeable. When memory loss persists, it often takes away a person’s sense of self, their sense of independence, their confidence interacting with others, or functioning normally in their life.

If you or someone you know has suffered memory loss after a concussion or an event resulting in a significant acceleration/deceleration of the brain, even if there was no loss of consciousness, professional medical help should be obtained at the earliest opportunity. While there may not be a “cure” for memory loss, the symptoms should be evaluated in a timely manner. There are therapies and adaptive strategies a neurologist or neuropsychologist may recommend to help the brain recover and to assist in living as normally as possible.

After you speak to a medical professional about your concerns, call us to speak with an experienced brain injury attorney.