The Health Edition

How does a brain injury affect your memory?

There is no doubt that one of the more common effects of a brain injury is problems with memory. Many people with a brain injury will report symptoms of both short and long term memory problems.

Short-term memory is the ability to store and hold information for a short period of time (such as a few minutes). Long-term memory is the ability to store and recall information that happened several hours, days, months or years ago.

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Memory problems after a brain injury are due to damage to the part of the brain involved in the storage and retrieval of our memories. Due to the complex nature of both short and long term memory processes, several different parts of the brain are involved. If one of these parts becomes damaged then we can start to see problems with memory. This is the reason why many people who have been injured in different parts of the brain will report problems with memory.

Problems can affect both memories stored before the injury occurred, as well as storing new memories post injury.

Although memory problems can be extremely frustrating for the injured person, there are some coping mechanisms that can be adopted to try and combat some of the more common problems. No one brain injury is the same, and the symptoms one person experiences and the recovery they see can be completely different to someone else with a similar injury.

The focus should be on early assessment and rehabilitation to ensure an individual makes the best possible recovery following a brain injury according to specialist brain injury solicitors CFG Law. Over 25 years’ experience dealing with brain injury claims has shown that by far the most crucial factor in ensuring the greatest amount of physical and emotional progress is early treatment and rehabilitation.

Strategies should be adopted relative to each individual case and what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. Finding out what works best for you can take time, so be patient and try different things.

Head way (the brain injury association) have several fact sheets to help individuals that have suffered a brain injury. The fact sheets cover a range of different conditions people can experience including cognitive, emotional, physical and emotional effects of brain injury.

Other things that can help with memory include making use of the environment around you, using aids to help you to remember to do certain tasks and sticking to a routine.

Making use of the environment

Making use of the environment you are in can be an easy way to aid memory and help you day to day. Simple things such as keeping a notepad close to places you may need to remember things (such as the telephone), or putting notice boards on the wall to remind you about certain tasks can really help you to remember things.

Labelling cupboards and doors to inform you of what is kept where and which doors lead to which rooms can help you with day to day functioning. Also, try to put important things such as keys, wallets and purses in the same place every time you put them down (such as in a bowl on the sideboard in the hall), so you do not need to remember where you have left them each time you leave the house.

Using aids to help memory

External aids can be useful for everyone, not just people with a brain injury. Setting prompts on phones and computer calendars, using diaries and organisers, or just a small notebook that you can carry around with you can be useful to remind you where you need to be and when. Putting appointments into diaries and phones immediately after they are made avoids confusion and reduces the chance of things being forgotten.

Pill boxes can also help if you have regular medication to take. Putting pills into day slots can remind you if you have taken your medication that day or not, and also exactly what medication you need to take.

Sticking to a routine

Setting a daily and weekly routine can help you to understand and remember what’s happening in your life. It can also give you one less thing to have to remember and think about. To establish a routine, add activities and regular events to a calendar on the wall or add them to a diary or Filofax.