Memory Loss After a Concussion

Memory loss is one possible symptom that can follow a concussion. Concussion-related amnesia usually subsides in a few days or weeks. However, some individuals may struggle with ongoing memory loss that doesn’t go away. This is a sign of permanent brain injury

If memory loss has an impact on your earning ability or otherwise harms your finances or quality of life, a brain injury lawyer may be able to help you recover compensation to offset the costs.

What Happens During a Concussion?

What Happens During a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of brain injury that occurs when the brain sustains trauma. This usually involves the head coming into contact with an external object, like the floor after a fall or a baseball during a sports accident. 

However, concussions can also happen even without external trauma. For example, in a car accident, a sudden stop can cause the brain to slam against the inside of the skull. The trauma results in a temporary loss of normal cognitive function. Concussions are usually accompanied by a variety of symptoms, including pain, nausea, and disorientation. 

Doctors categorize a concussion as a mild traumatic brain injury. Treatment typically involves staying home from work, avoiding bright light and loud noise, and resting. During that period, the injured person should avoid screen use, reading, and physical activity. 

With proper rest, concussion symptoms typically stop within a week or two. If your symptoms last longer, your doctor may recommend an imaging test, like a CT scan or MRI, to see if there is a noticeable injury to the brain. If nothing is found, there may not be much a doctor can do to provide relief for lingering symptoms. 

How Does a Concussion Cause Memory Loss?

Memory loss is a common concussion symptom. However, it’s not common for memory loss to last longer than a week or so, and it’s usually accompanied by other common concussion symptoms. When memory loss occurs after a concussion, it’s most often short-term memory loss.

The ability to store and retrieve memory is a highly complex process that relies on multiple parts of the brain. Doctors believe that when an individual suffers a concussion, the brain’s complex, interrelated functions are temporarily knocked out of equilibrium. This can cause memory loss as well as other concussion symptoms, like feelings of vertigo or disorientation. 

As the brain is given time to rest and heal, normal functioning is restored, and the symptoms abate. Doctors and scientists don’t currently have effective medical methods for improving brain functioning in the areas of memory and recall. 

Prompt, effective treatment is considered to be the best way to reduce the chance of lasting concussion symptoms. When a person attempts to ignore concussion symptoms, it puts additional strain on an injured brain. This can interfere with the healing process and often makes symptoms like memory loss worse. 

If you notice that you or a loved one are having memory issues after suffering a concussion, it’s understandably concerning. However, individuals often aren’t aware that scientists and doctors differentiate between different types of memory. Furthermore, different parts of the brain facilitate these different forms of memory. 

The specific type of memory loss helps indicate the part of the brain that may have suffered a lasting impact from the accident. It also helps the victim and their loved ones keep tabs on brain functioning by paying specific attention to the type of memory loss the injured person displays. 

Short-Term Memory Loss

Short-term memory loss is the most common type of memory loss that happens with a concussion. Short-term memory refers to things that only need to be recalled for a short period. Examples include where you set your phone down or what happened in the television episode you watched last night. 

Short-term memory loss for a week or two after a concussion should be reported to your doctor, but it isn’t typically cause for concern. Short-term memory loss that lasts for months or years isn’t normal. Living for a prolonged period with short-term memory problems can take a serious toll on your job and your life. 

Long-Term Memory Loss

Long-term memory loss is not considered to be a normal concussion symptom, but it does sometimes happen. Long-term memory is the memory that is stored for many years or most of your lifetime. The brain handles long-term memory differently than short-term memory. 

You can think of short-term memories as being in temporary storage, where they will eventually either be discarded or stored in long-term memory. Long-term memories are much more firmly imprinted in the brain, making them less likely to be forgotten. 

When a concussion results in lost memories that have been stored for years, such as directions to a friend’s house or the date of your anniversary, it’s often highly concerning. Long-term memory loss at any point after a concussion should be immediately reported to your doctor.  

Additional Types of Concussion Memory Loss

Long-term and short-term memory are the most widely known types of memory. However, there are other types of memory, each of which might be uniquely impacted by a concussion. 

Working memory is the part of your brain that reserves space to hold the information you are currently using. When you balance a budget or assemble a work presentation, the information you are actively thinking about is held in your working memory. A concussion that impacts working memory can make it very difficult to succeed at work or perform daily tasks. 

Two other common types of memory are implicit and explicit memory. These terms refer to two specific types of long-term memory. Explicit memory refers to the information and events you remember. Implicit memory refers to motor memory or the things your body automatically remembers, like how to drive a car.

Lasting memory loss following a concussion can take a serious toll on your life. In some cases, memory loss may require that you leave your job, change careers, or hire help to assist with household tasks and family life. If a concussion harms your finances and quality of life, a personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recover compensation through a brain injury claim. 

Marzzacco Niven & Associates is a personal injury firm located in Harrisburg, PA. Our skilled attorneys have a combined 120 years of experience handling personal injury cases. We’ve successfully recovered millions for our injured clients, and we’re ready to discuss your case. 

Contact our law office today at (717) 231 1640  to schedule your free consultation with an experienced Harrisburg brain injury lawyer.