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What is post-traumatic amnesia?

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2023 | Catastrophic Injuries |

One of the issues that can arise when someone suffers a concussion or other type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is memory loss. This often results from brain swelling. As the swelling dissipates, most if not all memories eventually return. It can take time, though.

When a concussion results from a sudden or traumatic event, like being struck by a car while on your bike, taking a serious fall or an act of violence, it can cause something called post-traumatic amnesia. There are two primary types of post-traumatic amnesia (PTA).

Anterograde amnesia

This is the most common type of PTA. It can cause people to forget what happened immediately after the injury. For example, a person may remember being struck but have no memory of how they got to the hospital or even of the days following their injurious incident.

Retrograde amnesia

This is less common, but it happens. It affects the memory of the moments leading up to the injury. For example, a person may remember riding their bike out of their driveway, but have no memory of the car that ran a stop sign and hit them.

There are all kinds of variations in re: memory loss after an accident. Pop Christian singer Amy Grant has talked about the work she’s had to do to recover lost memories after a bike accident in 2022 that left her unconscious for ten minutes. She has said she doesn’t remember the accident itself or her hospital stay and struggled long after the crash to remember names, lyrics and more.

Be careful about trying to recount an incident you don’t clearly remember

In the days and weeks after a crash or other accident, you may be contacted by insurance companies, law enforcement and maybe even the party(ies) responsible for it. It’s imperative that you don’t try to recount your side of things if you don’t clearly recall what happened. Further, don’t let anyone you don’t trust implicitly (like family and friends who were there) tell you what happened.

A good first step is to get legal guidance to protect your rights and avoid jeopardizing your case. A TBI that causes memory loss could require time away from work and other responsibilities, therapy and other expenses. You want to be able to successfully seek compensation to cover your expenses and other damages. Waiting to speak about your experience until you can clearly remember what happened may be an effort that makes or breaks the strength of your case.