Anterograde amnesia is a devastating condition that could render a person permanently disabled. Defined as the loss of the ability to form new memories, anterograde amnesia affects short-term memory. Patients with this form of amnesia have trouble recalling the day’s events, even while retaining memories that were present before the injury.
Causes of Anterograde Amnesia
Various neurological changes can cause anterograde amnesia, from surgery to stroke. However, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), especially those involving oxygen deprivations, remain a leading cause of this debilitating condition.
The mechanisms controlling memory are not well understood. Doctors do know, however, that the median temporal lobe system plays a key role in short-term memory and anterograde amnesia. The areas of the brain that make up this region include the hippocampus, mammillary bodies, and fornix. Damage to the hippocampus seems to be most responsible for anterograde amnesia.
Brain Injury and Memory Loss
Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability. In cases such as near drowning, the brain is deprived of oxygen. Oxygen deprivation that lasts five minutes or more is often fatal. Those victims who survive are very likely to suffer traumatic brain injury and long-term disability.
Memory loss is the most common symptom of traumatic brain injury. Researchers are finding that plasticity in the brain plays a key role in recovery from memory-related injuries. Plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to form new connections to replace damaged ones.
Researchers have also learned that children are far more likely than adults are to adapt to brain injury because their brains have a greater level of plasticity. Researchers are currently using imaging technologies to understand better how plasticity affects recovery from anterograde amnesia.
Treatments for Anterograde Amnesia
While treatment for anterograde amnesia remains limited, there have been advances in emergency treatment for TBI. In patients who are suffering from hypothermia upon arrival at the hospital, doctors are finding a better recovery rate if the body temperature is kept cools, rather than quickly warmed. Progesterone has also had promising results in clinical studies involving traumatic brain injury. Studies involving progesterone are still ongoing; hence, the FDA has not approved its widespread use for TBI.
Despite some medical advances, anterograde amnesia remains a common complication of traumatic brain injuries. Anterograde amnesia resulting from TBI may be total or limited. Victims may have trouble remembering what they ate for lunch or events from the previous day. In severe cases, they may be missing most of the previous day’s events from their memory banks. Intelligence and personality remain intact but patients often have difficulty learning new information. Persons with anterograde amnesia are likely to be totally disabled since short-term memory is vital to most job skills.
Anterograde amnesia not only affects patients, but their families and friends as well. Those afflicted require support to live as normally as possible. If a loved one has been diagnosed with anterograde amnesia due to a traumatic brain injury, contact us for help. We will help you determine financial reparations should be pursued.