Acquired brain injury memory loss
One of the biggest impacts we see for the brain injury survivors that we work with, is the enormous impact of memory problems after an acquired brain injury or a traumatic brain injury. Sadly a traumatic brain injury can damage parts of the brain that handle learning and remembering. It appears to affect short term memory more than long term memory. The majority of brain injury survivors report that memory problems have a negative impact on their lives and their personal relationships.
People who have experienced a brain injury may not always remember the injury itself or the events surrounding it. A loss of memory from the moment of traumatic brain injury onward is often called post traumatic amnesia which can last from a few minutes of confusion to a much longer period of time, depending on the severity of brain injury suffered.
Living with memory loss can be incredibly frustrating and difficult for the person affected and those close to them. Organisations such as Headway can provide vital advice, guidance and links to local support.
Techniques for coping
Some of the treatment for memory loss uses techniques and strategies to try to compensate for the memory difficulties. Our Clients benefit from work with experts in Occupational Therapy. Techniques can be perhaps to learn new information to replace what was lost or to use those memories that are still intact as a basis for taking in new information. Occupational Therapists can also work with clients to develop different strategies for organising that information, so that things are easier to remember.
We are also seeing clients benefit more and more from advances in Assistive Technology – devices around the home to support them with their memory loss. It can be helpful for those experiencing memory loss to rely on electronic organisers, which can be as simple as a handheld smartphone or a similar larger tablet device, to help with day to day activities. For example, we can set reminders on our mobile phones to flag up important events or remind us to take medication.
For those who are not used to using technology prior to the brain injury, there are low tech memory aids that can be used such as notebooks, wall calendars and dosette boxes for medication. A memory device could include making lists and keeping diaries and address books. I have seen with my own family that the use of photographs throughout the house, of familiar people and places, can act as daily reminders and also help to re-orientate someone in place and time.
For leaving the home for appointments, it can help to write down key personal information to keep with you, as well as the list of any medications you are taking. Bringing a notepad in order to jot down any key points arising out of assessments and appointments is a big help. Ideally, asking a family member or friend to accompany you to key appointments is a huge help, but we know not always possible. For some of our clients that ends up being a support worker.
Another idea is to keep all items that you need to take with you in a “memory station” at home such as on a side table and this will contain everything essential such as a wallet, keys and phone. However the difficulty is that having memory problems can often make it hard to remember to even use the strategies. That is where formal support from someone else can make a real difference.
We support clients who have suffered mild, moderate and severe brain injuries that have arisen in different ways – sometimes through medical negligence by surgery, tumour or loss of oxygen for example, and often by head injury trauma suffered in accidents either on the road or in any other environment. One thing is clear is that no two brain injuries are the same. Every brain is unique and therefore the effects of brain injury will be different for each client. We work hard to assess the effects on our clients as individuals.
One thing we know is that the first period of time after a brain injury is the most crucial time to try to benefit from rehabilitation and ideally, specialist brain injury rehab.
In the right cases, we can appoint a Case Manager to coordinate ongoing rehabilitation as soon as possible and to ensure that that support is adapted to meet the continuing needs of our clients.
We are fully aware that running cases can be an added confusion for people who already have a lot to deal with, and therefore we try to take away as much of the burden as we can, and take time to ensure support is personalised and dependable through each stage of the case. We guide clients with careful explanations that they can understand. In some brain injury cases, clients may not have capacity to instruct us directly and we appoint a Litigation Friend on their behalf, usually a close relative.
If you have any questions or if we can support you in any way, please get in touch for a no obligation consultation.