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How do TBIs affect memory?

When victims get into crashes, they will likely suffer injury in at least one of these three places: the back, the neck and the head. Head and brain injuries are sometimes the hardest to detect, too.

But brain injuries – especially traumatic ones – have the potential to do the most damage. This can include everything from affecting your speech to tampering with your memory.

Location of the damage

The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center takes a look into how brain injuries affect your memory. The exact effect depends on the location of the injury, as well as the amount of damage dealt. For example, in a crash, it is common for the front area of the brain to suffer. This is especially true in rear-end collisions, where whiplash is likely to occur.

When the frontal lobe suffers damage, your short term memory ends up suffering, too. In particular, you will struggle to recall things 10-15 seconds after they happen. Damage to this area is often why victims cannot remember the moment of their injury, rather than emotional trauma.

Effects on long and short term memory

Sometimes, depending on the damage, these short term memories do not take hold at all. They simply exist and then your brain cannot store it, so it is as though the event never occurred.

Other times, the medial temporal lobe might suffer damage instead. This means your brain will struggle to convert short term to long term memories. You may thus struggle to recall things like appointments, important dates and crucial deadlines. Needless to say, any of these effects have the potential to impact your life in big and continued ways.

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