If a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and lost consciousness, whether in a car crash, a fall or a blow to the head, it can be a frightening time. Although it’s always a relief when they regain consciousness, the effects of the injury can be equally unsettling.
It’s not uncommon for those who’ve suffered a TBI – even a concussion – to suffer some memory loss (amnesia). This is most likely to occur when one or more parts of the brain used to process memory are affected. These include the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and amygdala. Post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) can last for anywhere from a few minutes to weeks or even longer, depending on how seriously the person was injured.
The types of PTA
There are several types of PTA. The most common is anterograde. This is when someone can remember things that happened prior to their injury but has difficulty remembering what occurred afterward and into the present time.
Retrograde amnesia is when someone can’t recall things that happened before their injury. They may not even recall just how it happened. Some people have some combination of both, which means they may not remember what they were doing when they were injured but also struggle to remember things that their family and doctors have just told them. There’s also a rare type of PTA called dissociative amnesia where people can actually forget who they are. This is more likely after a very serious injury that has left someone in a coma.
Fortunately, PTA generally subsides over time as the brain heals. However, a person suffering from PTA may be unable to work, go to school, drive or do a number of things their family relies on them to do for some time.
Those with PTA can harm their own case
If your loved one’s injury was caused by another party, it’s important to get the necessary compensation to cover medical costs, lost wages and other financial losses and damages that have resulted from the injury. However, if the victim of the injury is suffering any memory issues, you need to be extremely careful about letting them talk to insurers or anyone else representing the at-fault party and even law enforcement.
It’s easy to be suggestible to inaccurate versions of what occurred when you don’t remember. That’s just one reason why it’s wise to have legal guidance.