Memory Impairments and Brain Injury
In a recent blog we highlighted how the frontal lobe can be affected after a brain injury and the impact this can have on ones day to day function. In the blog we touched upon the difficulties faced when memory becomes impaired.
Memory is a complicated matter and is difficult to fully unravel. After brain injury or any neurological diagnosis many people report that they experience issues with some parts of their memory. The effected components can range from issues with recalling peoples names, recognition of familiar objects, recalling visual information such as routes or written instructions, recalling events from years ago or recalling things that happened moments ago. Some people also have difficulty remembering how to carry out familiar sequences. People may present with ‘patchy memory’ so they recall things or facts that you would not expect them to but forget quite meaningful things. This can make it very difficult to understand or predict how someone may cope in their daily life.
So why do we see so much varied presentations and abilities when it comes to peoples memories? Many areas of the brain are involved in some aspect of memory and this is why it is a complicated area to understand.
In very broad, simplified terms the following areas can be highlighted with memory function: The cerebellum (for procedural memory), frontal lobe – prefrontal cortex (for processing short term memory and retaining longer term memories), Parietal lobe (navigation), temporal lobe (a role in formation of long term memories relating to things like semantics and faces and also procedures) the hippocampus is involved for transferring memories from short to long term and the basal ganglia is involved in retrieval of memories. The system with how all of these areas link and work together to process new memories, store or retrieve memories is rather complicated hence why when one presents with a memory deficit it can be quite confusing and difficult to understand how they are able to manage some things and not others. More information on processing can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baddeley%27s_model_of_working_memory
Lobes of the cerebral cortex
Picture from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_brain)
The Limbic System and Basal Ganglia
Picture from How Stuff Works
Whilst some people make a very good recovery after a traumatic brain injury others may be left with continued cognitive impairments. Other neurological diagnosis or conditions may result in people facing a deterioration in their abilities and function. There are many strategies that can be implemented to aid with optimising independence and compensating for memory impairments. There are also approaches that may be beneficial to work on re-learning tasks and recalling information.
Occupational therapists are experienced in taking a problem solving approach to helping one overcome some of the difficulties they are experiencing. They have the knowledge to work through problems and offer some practical solutions to try and reduce the impact of memory impairment on daily life.
There is an interesting personalised article regarding brain injury survivors: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-zellmer/traumatic-brain-injury_b_8015332.html
If you have issues relating to your memory and wish to discuss further please do not hesitate to contact OT Partners via firstname.lastname@example.org