Brain Trauma:
The Facts against the Fiction

By M. Chris Wolf, PH.D. and Memory Loss Staff

Brain trauma is an important topic. We have all seen at least one sitcom or soap opera episode where one of the characters is bumped on the head and is struck with amnesia. These characters will go an episode or two, but then they will receive all of their memories back just in time. It works as a plot device, but is not an accurate depiction of brain trauma in the slightest.

The main issue with this portrayal is that it makes light of something that can be quite serious. Memory loss can happen with brain injury, yes, but the memories do not just rush back to you. Depending on the type of head trauma the victim has suffered, it will take a very long time to recover lost memories, and oft times than not some may ever be fully remembered.

Of course, that is only with brain injury resulting from a head injury. Brain dysfunction resulting from a stroke can be much more serious. A stroke happens when a disturbance in the blood supply to the brain rapidly depletes your supply of brain cells. If not handled immediately, this could result in anything from loss of mobility in some parts of the victim's body to fatality.

There are instances too where neurons become disconnected from each other, and the victim will be able to recognize faces but not feel the emotional attachment resulting in some sufferers of severe trauma to the brain to think their loved ones are imposters.

This depiction also fails to mention that memory loss is not the most damaging effect of brain trauma. If the trauma to the victim's brain is severe enough, it can put them in a coma. This is a very delicate time for the victim's brain, because it is at this stage that their brain can either wake their body back up or result in their brain becoming completely inactive. If the latter happens, they are rendered "brain dead" and they are considered a living cadaver.

However, although recovery from brain injury is not as fast as how they depict it, it does not mean it is not possible. Several brain injury rehabilitation centers specialize in teaching skills forgotten at a gradual pace. If the patient has suffered a stroke that prevents them from using certain parts of their body, they are taught how to do the task in a different way.

However, when it comes to brain trauma, even the slightest damage can be permanent. Proper safety and immediate action is always needed when it comes to head trauma, because unlike in the television shows, there is not always a successful conclusion.

Also see Post Concussion Syndrome

See also Brain Injury

Also visit Dementia Overview

See Anosmia

What about Cerebral Atrophy

For more information consider these resources:

Brain Injury Survivor's Guide: Welcome to Our World by Larry Jameson and Beth Jameson

Head and Neck Trauma: An Interdisciplinary Approach by Arne Ernst, Michael Herzog and, Rainer Seidl

Return from Brain Trauma to Causes of Memory Loss


Return to Memory Loss Facts

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