Your cherished memories can all but disappear through a particularly hard blow to the head or by falling and striking your head on a hard surface. Memories of your childhood, your first kiss, first love, graduation or wedding can all be erased in a single instant of violence or calamity.
This article will look at the connection between a brain injury and memory loss, the different types of memory loss and whether or not there is a chance that these memories will ever return.
The Brain And Memory
The brain is an organ responsible for hundreds of tasks around the human body, including the storing of your precious memories. Whenever you perform an action or experience something, like a conversation or watching an episode of your favorite television show, a memory is formed.
The ability to recall this information after only a short period of time has elapsed, is called your short-term memory. This type of memory involves the pre-frontal cortex.
A person’s long-term memory, important things ingrained into a person’s mind for a very long time, sometimes for a lifetime, involves the hippocampus as well as other parts of the brain. These types of memories normally involve major events in an individual’s life which make a lasting impact, such as the birth of your child, your wedding day or the death of a beloved person. Hippocampus is the instigator of long-term memory, but the location in which these memories are stored are scattered in various places in a person’s brain.
Memory is transferred from the short-term or the working term into your long-term memory via the hippocampus. The hippocampus will be used with frequency when a person is studying for a test as you try to process data into a lasting long-term memory.
Causes Of Memory Loss
- Physical trauma to the head can result in damage to a person’s long or short-term memory. This could occur in a car accident, a fall or a blow to the head during a vicious assault.
- Other things that can cause impairment to memory are excessive use of alcohol or drugs, a stroke, lack of sleep, a brain tumour, brain infections or prolonged malnutrition.
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Types Of Memory Loss
There are two chief types of memory loss or amnesia which can affect a person who has experienced a head injury. These are either retrograde or anterior grade amnesia.
- Retrograde Amnesia: It involves damage to memories which formed prior to the accident. This could only involve the actual accident or trauma, so a person is unable to recall the events which led to his or her ordeal. They will not recall the car accident or the fight which caused the blow to the head. Other times, memories from hours, days, weeks or even years ago will simply disappear.
- Anterior Grade: This memory loss is a form of memory impairment where the memories of the accident or trauma will be obliterated. This means it will be difficult to form new memories. An affected person may have a 30-minute conversation with a friend but be unable to recall a single second of it afterward.
Normally, a physical trauma will affect a person’s short-term memory, and their long-term memory will remain relatively untouched. So, for example, a person who recently has experienced a head trauma will be able to remember with perfect clarity their wedding day ten years prior but have no idea what occurred 30 minutes ago.
The Recovery Of Memory
Whether or not a person will ever recover their lost memories is largely dependable on the severity of the damage inflicted on the brain. Sometimes with certain types of cognitive therapy conducted by a specialist, an individual will at some point regain their lost memories.
How this is gone about will depend on what type of memory is affected. An individual may have trouble recalling verbal memory rather than visual, so a speech therapist may be the best avenue in this scenario.
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Each case of memory loss is treated individually, and a personal treatment plan will be made to cater for individual needs or for some reason, a person can be triggered to remember bits and pieces of their forgotten years. The recovery of memories is a very unpredictable business.
They could return to a few months, years or the unfortunate truth of the matter is they may never return at all and you will have to be content with making new memories instead. If your memories do return, they will not typically come back all in one go, but rather gradually come about in bits and pieces in a sporadical manner.
This process is almost like being given random pieces of a jigsaw puzzle instead of the whole puzzle in one go. Memory loss can be a frustrating and tiring trial, but if you surround yourself with understanding friends and family it can be an easier experience.