Most of us don’t fully grasp how much the brain plays a role in everything we do until it’s injured. The part of the brain injured typically determines how the injury affects a person.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can result from falls, blows to the head and car accidents. In a car crash, even if a person’s head doesn’t strike a hard object, vigorous back-and-forth shaking (as often happens when rear-ended) can cause a TBI.
What is post-traumatic amnesia?
Many people who suffer a TBI have some degree of memory loss. Those who have been knocked unconscious for a time may suffer what’s known as post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) when they wake up. Usually, PTA is a temporary condition. However, it usually affects people’s memory of the events surrounding the TBI.
There’s more than one type of PTA, but the most common is anterograde amnesia. That’s when a person can remember everything leading up to the injury, but nothing from that point on. They may have no memory, for example, of how they got to the hospital.
Another type of PTA involves retrograde amnesia. This is basically the opposite of anterograde. A person with retrograde amnesia may remember everything following the injury but not the period immediately prior to it. It’s also possible to suffer some form of both anterograde and retrograde amnesia.
Don’t tell your story if your memories aren’t clear
As noted, problems with memory and even the various types of amnesia are typically not permanent. Even longer-term memory loss can improve with time and various therapies, like writing. However, anyone who’s suffering from any amount of memory loss after a car crash should be very careful about whom they talk to about it.
For example, talking to the at-fault driver’s insurance company can seriously harm your claim for compensation. If you aren’t completely certain about what happened, you shouldn’t rely on foggy memories or what anyone else (aside from trusted loved ones who were there) tells you happened.
It can be too easy to allow yourself to be influenced by what others tell you who don’t have your best interests at heart. After you make a statement that you later realize was wrong, it can be difficult – if not impossible – to retract. Your best course of action may be to seek experienced legal guidance before you speak to anyone (including law enforcement) about the event that caused your injury.