I began by writing a few words, then a few sentences, and then, whole paragraphs. The more I wrote, the better I felt. I wanted, no — I needed to explain what it felt like inside the lonely head of a person with a brain injury and how the world looked.
Changes in memory after brain injury or stroke can take many forms and are one of the most challenging and frustrating losses for survivors, families and caregivers. These blogs on memory loss after brain injury provide information, compensatory strategies, and practical tips.
The brain is a complex and vulnerable organ. As you can see, there is nothing mild about an injury to the brain. But by becoming more knowledgeable about mild brain injury, you can become an informed consumer of health services, effective health care provider, supportive family member, caring friend or colleague. It can happen to anyone.
Changes in behavior after a brain injury are common and particularly stressful for families and caregivers. “Why does he act that way? What can we do? She’s like a different person.” These are just a few comments repeatedly heard by clinicians when talking with families and caregivers. It’s not only the person with the brain injury who has changed. Family members now find they have to change their expectations and about the survivor’s behavior. They also learn to change how they respond to these new and often frustrating and challenging behaviors that they see at home and out in the community.
Sometimes I forget a name. People without brain injury try to make me feel better with, “Oh, I do that too! Maybe I have a brain injury! Ha, ha!” That doesn’t make me feel better. Before my TBI, I forgot names sometimes. I just didn’t forget my own family members’ names and call them “Um, Excuse Me.”
Many students with traumatic brain injury or TBI have cognitive deficits, but memory can be especially challenging. Dr. Katherine Kimes explains the importance of matching the student’s learning style with cognitive strategies to help and support the student in the classroom. She provides a detailed list of educational strategies that teachers can use to help the child or adolescent who has challenges with memory and comprehension due to a brain injury.
Many survivors have changes in cognition after a traumatic brain injury. These cognitive changes often mean that thinking is simply harder and takes longer. These are the changes that so often greatly concern survivors and families. They can affect everything from making a shopping list to returning to work. Some cognitive changes are so minor or subtle that only the survivor or close family members are aware of them. Other changes are obvious and significantly affect the survivor’s daily life, relationships, ability to work or go to school. Cognitive challenges are a major factor in determining whether a survivor can live independently, must rely on family for support, or needs a residential program for assistance and supervision.
Barbara Webster, author of the tip card Memory Strategies after Brain Injury shares strategies and tips that can be used daily at home. Daily life can be complicated for anyone, but it can be even more complex and stressful if you have a memory impairment after a brain injury. By designing and using strategies that fit into your personal routine, you can develop a system that works for you and your lifestyle. It has to be practical, easy to use, and address your needs for it to work for you! That’s the bottom line…does it help you remember?
Changes in her memory and speech after a traumatic brain injury were difficult losses for Bridgid Ruden. Formerly a busy nurse practitioner, she now found it hard to do even the simplest tasks and errands. Even caring for her children and managing the household were constant challenges and frustrations as she frequently lost items as well as words. So many losses changed her sense of self and were further compounded by seizures. Yet she has found a new purpose in life and is now a powerful advocate and speaker for the many voices of survivors.
Memory problems are considered the most disabling consequence of brain injury according to The Essential Brain Injury Guide (Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), 2007). Impaired memory affects a person’s ability to learn, retain, and use new information and may significantly affect a person’s ability to live independently (BIAA, 2007). Where the brain was injured plays a significant role on what brain functions were impaired as a result of the traumatic event. If the temporal lobe area was injured, changes will often be seen in the following areas: memory, hearing, receptive language and organization and sequencing. When you struggle to remember or recall information that is being processed, the every day tasks that need to be accomplished become more difficult. When memory problems are present, you may find yourself feeling scattered, unsure, not knowing where to begin and overwhelmed.
Routines are important for everyone, including business people, children, entrepreneurs, artists and writers, parents and individuals in rehabilitation. Everyone resists routines at some time or other – that’s part of the human experience. This happens because a person feels like he or she is in a rut or that they just need a break from the daily hustle bustle. Nonetheless, they return to a routine, albeit one that may be varied or altered from the previous one.