Do people normally remember how they got head injury? - Headway


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Do people normally remember how they got head injury?

keeley24 profile image

Last July I was involved in a serious car accident. have no memory of what or how it happened. s this usual? have no other memory loss I even remember bits from when I was unconscious.

My mum was told I may never remember what happened as its a way of protecting you from bad memories that the brain has.

I've been through it in my mind many times the most likely explanation is someone hit my car and carried on driving. As I was on the motorway and hit the hard shoulder and stopped on motorway where another car hit me. he hitting hard shoulder onwards is what I know did happen from what people have said. So the mystery is what made me hit hard shoulder?

16 Replies

When I was 11, I was knocked down while walking on the pavement, and have no memory of it. All I can remember is walking along the pavement, and then running home with blood running into my eyes. My sister was there so witnessed what happened. Over the past 40 years no memory of that event has ever returned. perhaps because it all happened so quickly I was not aware of what was happening? Then in 2008 I lost my memory due to radiation treatment, over the following years my memory has returned, although I am a little forgetful. So I would guess, memory loss depends on why you lost your memory. As your mum said in your case it maybe that your subconscious is protecting you from the trauma, or that it happened so quickly you were not aware of what happened? I would suggest you do not stress over it, as if your memory was to return maybe being gentle with your self would be better. Kind Regards

I'm not expecting to ever remember though out of curiosity I would be interested.. I wouldn't be too bothered over how I felt at time or whatever but I had my dog with me that unfortunally didn't survive it so any memories of what happened to him would probably upset me. There is a good chance I wasn't aware of anything to do with him as I'm guessing my main thought was trying to avoid crashing and probably fear for myself.

Post-traumatic amnesia (the inability to store memories after a brain injury) is very common. It's not well understood, it could be a result of physical damage to the brain pathways or a psychological response to 'black out' unpleasant experiences.

Generally the longer the amnesia the poorer your chances of a good outcome. Below is a list used to classify the severity of a brain injury based on how long the amnesia lasts. BUT remember that there is huge variation, nobody should read this and think they don't have a chance or that their recovery is not as good as it should be. My PTA is just over 3 weeks but i have made a fantastic recovery.

PTA Duration Brain Injury Severity

Less than 5 minutes Very mild

5 to 60 minutes Mild

1 to 24 hours Moderate

1 to 7 days Severe

1 to 4 weeks Very severe

More than 4 weeks Extremely severe

Fificakes2 profile image
Fificakes2 in reply to thepiercy

What does PTA mean? Is it about your brain ?

Hi Keeley

I had an RTA in 2011 and I cant remember what happenend at all, although I really want to, I can't even remember the weeks leading up to the accident. I've been told I probably never will which sucks a bit but I've accepted that.

That's really interesting. I have PTA, but I can't say it applies to absolutely everything leading up to the accident. The only thing I can remember about the accident is thinking "I'm going to die now" (I didn't, obviously) but most of what happened in the months before disappeared. I can definitely remember one thing from the day of the accident. I saw someone the other day who I hadn't seen for 30 years, and he complimented me on how much I could remember about our school, so it's swings and roundabouts, it would appear.

ScubaD profile image
ScubaD in reply to Jacare

I would say my post traumatic amnesia is for the event itself and just before and after it. I also remember everyday events in childhood just not the assaults who was witnessed by a family member. The brain protects us at the time but a severe injury will show symptoms as mine was. I wish you good things for the future.

My injury was in 2006 and I have no recollection of it or anything since...I have vague flashes of 'memory' about things in the period leading up to it but nothing detailed about the couple of weeks prior to the injury.

It is not expected I will ever regain those memories. It is far more important to me now that I understand that I do not and will not remember things than it is to bemoan the stuff I cannot recall.

Sounds like I've done well remembering everything before and after then. I'm guessing I'll never remember. I know don't need to know and there must of been panic and fear as it happened. As for my dog that I lost of course I've wished he wasn't with me at that time, but there was many times he was in the car just because we didn't want to leave him. When we went shop and stuff which would of been harder losing him then. t least this day he did have a nice day and a walk. There was no reason to leave him at home without knowing what would happen.

I don't know why *you* don't remember the accident or whether you ever will, but there is one aspect of your question that I do have a view on. You said "My mum was told I may never remember what happened as its a way of protecting you from bad memories that the brain has.".

IMO, too many people offer, or are offered, psychiatrically-based answers to explain what's happening (ie, it's an avoidance mechanism of some sort). In my experience, this is often not the case. Whilst psychiatry undoubtedly does have insights and provides a good answer to many people's problems, there is often a tendency on the part of people (including medics) to use them even in the face of contradictory evidence. The classic example that springs to my mind is blaming autism on "Ice Mother" parenting, wherein the mother's remoteness and lack of interaction is put down as the underlying cause of autistic social behaviour. Fortunately (or not, as your viewpoint may be), modern medicine recognizes autism as being neurological in basis; parents may still feel guilty, and the explanation may take away hope of cure, but at least they don't have to suffer the additional burden of being branded as uncaring and remote. I also have personal experience of being given really quite ridiculous psycho-babble explanations of why I experience certain types of pain or don't remember things.

You've had a head injury. It may be that your amnesia is a psychological protection mechanism. I suspect, it's just as likely, if not more so, to have been a disruption in the mechanism that lays down the long-term memories. You may never recover it simply because it isn't there to recover.

ScubaD profile image
ScubaD in reply to nemo_really

The memory is there. I have experienced traumatic remembering after over 45 years of amnesia for some assaults. I also trained as a clinical hypnotherapist and know this is a way in to remembering from personal experience but must be taken with great skill and care. The simple answer is our brain is protecting itself and us, it does this early on biologically to protect cells or brain tissue around the damaged area from further damage. It is the hippocampus where some of one's memory is kept safely. I had no previous knowledge of my past assaults until one was recovered and confirmed and the other i was told about in 2017 which was witnessed by a family member but i cannot remember but have scars on my head. My post traumatic remembering is by body memories, some confirm the above even though i still have amnesia for one. Sometimes it is better not knowing.

D. Morgan MBPsS

nemo_really profile image
nemo_really in reply to ScubaD

AFAIA, there is evidence that the post-traumatic brain can lose the ability to put the events surrounding the injury into long-term memory, meaning they are just not there to recover. In any given individual, the memory may, or may not, be there and there can be multiple reasons why it's not accessible if it is there; could be protection, or post-traumatic difficulty in accessing those pathways under anything but limited conditions.

Even where there is no event memory, I suspect that there may be 'experience' memory of some sort that can affect behaviour or thoughts.

I've often wondered it my fear of falling is related to the major emotional impact(!) of tumbling through the air, smashing into the road and scraping along it. Not so much a memory as a powerful correlation (falling - pain) that imprinted itself deep down, as if somebody branded it into my brain while I was asleep. OTOH, it could be completely unrelated.

I remember being at work and having a bad feeling that something was going to happen, my friend was going flying that day to deliver a helicopter and I asked her to make sure they dot all the I and cross the t,s. they returned just before the end of the shift and then she came up to the tower to see me before we left for home. We had a chat and then I left for home, on the way home I hit a diesel spill. I remember the wheel whipping round. I only have what can be called snap shots of things that happened afterwards, I remember a foot on the end of the bed to my left. I don't remember any visitors but I do remember a khaki jacket, I have little recall of everything happening for weeks. I don't remember my mum or other in law staying over to care for me either! For a long time afterwards I would have a short attention span, not remembering I was having a phone conversation and just putting it down, burning food when I tried to cook. I talk about it no like I have a memory, but its just being told over and over what things were like, I can't actually see myself there. It doesn't,t bother me so much now but I found it very difficult to cope with not knowing what when and how things had happened, I spent a long time desperately trying to remember things that just weren't there. That was one of the worst things I think that held me back from recovery. I was stuck trying to force myself to get the memories back and figure out everything that had happened and everyday there would be more to remember. I drove myself around the twist. I think some of this pressure was as the result of having a legal case on going and having one side trying to rubbish and question everything you say and another side saying its ok don't worry, but because you don't remember we can't prove x y z. Horrid. I recovered so much better when I just let go and delt with things as they were happening and accepted my new limits.

I was shot though the head, but I could still see & hear, although, I immediately went limp & my body lost feeling, strangely, I was somewhat nonplussed by this because, it didn't occur to me that I had been shot? There were bullets fizzing all over the place & we waited for a lull, & then I broke cover, & started to run for it, but I never got there. The only way I can describe it is that suddenly someone flipped a switch, on & off in my brain, from then on I became a passive observer. Eventually, I lost consciousness, but I kept coming-and-going, when they stretchered me off they fell over then I fell off, & etc., I remember hearing & seeing some glimpses of the ambulance & the hospital but these were progressively more & more fleeting over several hours. I then lapsed into a coma, as the process of swelling of the brain or what was left of it was hoovered up &/or slopped back in, & the surgeons, doctors & nurses me chopped, cleaned, & stitched me up.

I have no memory accounting movements before and how it happen. A car was speeding while was crossing the road. I was 8 years old at the time. Mum tells me if asked she says she will explain if any questions. I would rather not know now as living like this is some thing I just deal with. If I knew how it was before the accident it most likely will depress me.

This is normal and probably a blessing. I had a road accident with tbi n was in a coma for 3-4 weeks but I can't remember it. Just the moment before and then after. Don't worry too much about it. I hope your health picks up

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