Memory Loss After a Concussion

It’s easy to minimize the effects of a concussion if you’ve never had one. You might even think that a concussion is nothing more than a bump to the head — but in actuality, a concussion is a kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI), and it can have far-reaching consequences, including memory loss. 

With that being said, below is everything you need to know about concussions and their potentially ominous side effects.

What Exactly Is a Concussion?

What Exactly Is a Concussion?

A concussion is an injury to the brain caused when your head gets hit very hard (or your body is impacted enough to make your head move rapidly). Your brain bounces or twists within your skull as a result.

Some of the most common causes of concussions include the following:

That might not sound like too much of a big deal, but depending on the intensity of the impact, bumping your brain into your skull can damage your brain cells. Similarly, if the impact causes your brain to twist, your brain cells can be damaged by stretching. 

What Are Common Concussion Symptoms?

If you suffer a blow to the head, it’s important to note that even if you don’t notice any visible evidence of head trauma (like blood), it’s still possible to suffer from a concussion. 

Pay extra attention and seek out medical help if you notice any of these:

  • Problems with your vision
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Memory loss

A lot of people tend to believe that concussions only arise when a victim passes out after the impact, but in many (if not most) concussion cases, the victim doesn’t lose consciousness. With that said, always make sure to get checked out by a doctor after taking a hit to your head.

Why Do Concussions Cause Memory Loss?

Fully understanding how a blow to your head can cause memory loss requires that you first learn a bit about how your brain stores memories. You may think that the brain stores each memory as a unified whole — akin to a collective report being stored in a file cabinet — but human memory storage isn’t nearly that simple. 

When your brain consolidates new memories, it breaks them down into smaller pieces and then groups each piece alongside related parts of other memories. Returning to that report analogy, the process is more like printing a report, breaking it into sections, and then filing each section with its related materials.

Your brain has a complex network that connects the different locations where it stores memories. When you remember a specific event, your brain connects all of these different elements. If you get a concussion, though, that whole process gets affected — concussions cause swelling that temporarily stops brain cells from working as they should. 

What Are the Different Kinds of Concussions?

Concussions are graded on three levels of severity. 

The grade of your concussion indicates the severity of your memory loss and other symptoms:

  • Grade I: You don’t lose consciousness; if any memory loss occurs, it will last for under 30 minutes
  • Grade II: You lose consciousness for under five minutes or experience memory loss anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours
  • Grade III: You lose consciousness for over five minutes or lose your memory for more than 24 hours

The more severe the concussion, the greater the possibility of long-term effects, which makes prompt medical attention after a car accident (or other injurious event) vital.

What Types of Memory Loss Can You Get With a Concussion?

The memory loss you can incur after a concussion is called “post-traumatic amnesia.” Often, cases of post-traumatic amnesia can be grouped into two categories: short-term memory loss and long-term memory loss.

Short-Term Memory Loss

With short-term memory loss, you’ll be able to remember everything that happened prior to the concussion, but you’ll have trouble remembering new information. 

Some telltale signs of short-term memory loss include the following:

  • Forgetting events right after they happen
  • Getting confused over the date and time
  • Having trouble reading, writing, or speaking
  • Forgetting the names and faces of people you’ve recently met

Dealing with such a form of memory loss can be incredibly frustrating. While you’re waiting for it to subside, you might find it helpful to use planners and notes to remember important dates and times.

Long-Term Memory Loss

Long-term memory loss, as you may expect, is the opposite of that in the short term. You’ll have no trouble recalling recent events, but you might not remember things that happened before the injury. You’ll often forget fundamental knowledge, as well, making the idea of long-term memory loss especially scary. 

Some signs of long-term memory loss are as follows:

  • Forgetting the skills or abilities you may have
  • Forgetting basic, general knowledge
  • Being unable to remember the names and faces of people close to you
  • Losing your memories of events that happened before the concussion

With long-term memory loss, it’s possible to forget things that happened years before your concussion. Thankfully, though, people with such intense memory loss can still often remember things from childhood.

How Long Does It Take For Memory Loss To Set In?

For most people, memory loss after a concussion manifests within seven to ten days. However, it’s possible to suffer from memory loss that starts immediately after you hit your head.

Can You Recover From Post-Concussion Memory Loss?

Fortunately, the answer is yes. As you heal from a concussion, your memory will come back to you. On the short end, it might come back after only a few minutes, but on the longer end, it might take weeks or even months to do so.

Contrary to what you may think, you’re more likely to be able to return to normal sooner with long-memory loss, as the condition usually naturally resolves itself quickly. It is short-term memory loss that almost always takes longer to heal.

For a few people, memory loss and other symptoms last much longer than normal, a condition called post-concussion syndrome (PCS). PCS can last more than a year, and it can significantly disrupt your day-to-day life.

No matter the form of memory loss you sustain, make sure you follow your doctor’s directions to maximize your chances of a full recovery from a concussion.

Unfortunately, people are injured every day as a result of someone else’s actions (or their failure to act). If you didn’t cause your injury, you shouldn’t be held financially responsible for the bills, lost wages, and other costs associated with it. At Curiel & Runion Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers in Phoenix, AZ, we’ll fight tirelessly for your rights. If you’ve been injured, reach out to us today at (602) 595-5559 to set up a consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.