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What to know about amnesia following an accident

We see scenes of people in television comedies feigning amnesia for laughs in certain situations. But there is nothing funny about it in real life.

When someone suffers amnesia after, say, brain damage caused by a car accident or other physical injury, it can be either a temporary or long-term condition.

Amnesia typically is caused by accidents or neurological disease, but there can be other causes. It can range from losing some memories or forgetting facts to wiping out an entire past. Complete memory loss is extremely rare.

There are different types of amnesia, and several relate to damage to the hippocampus and the areas of the brain that have to do with encoding, storing and retrieving memories. If the pathways through which information that needs to be encoded or retrieved are blocked, or parts of the brain are damaged, then a patient might not be able to retrieve memories or make new ones.

Studies of traumatic brain injuries have shown that less than 3 percent of patients never have any memory loss. Six percent of patients have amnesia for less than an hour; 7 percent have memory loss between one and 23 hours; 16 percent experience memory loss between one day and one week, 23 percent between one week and one month and 45 percent in excess of one month.

Oftentimes, patients suffering from amnesia will need to go through both medical tests, such as brain scans and psychological testing. The costs both financially and emotionally to both the patient and family can be high.

If a loved one has amnesia, your family deserves to be compensated for the trauma. An attorney with experience in such cases can help you recoup your losses.

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