Short term memory problems - did it get better? - Headway


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Short term memory problems - did it get better?

Ladyberd70 profile image

Hello all,

Did you have problems with your short term memory as a result of your brain injury and if so, did it improve over time? My son is 13 weeks post accident and his short term memory is very bad at the moment. I'm wondering is there still time for any organic recovery.

31 Replies

I'd assume so, it's about 13 weeks from my accident, and looking back I'm recovering still. My short term memory is worse but it has always been dreadful due to dyslexia so it's difficult to separate any effects.

I have and always coped by judious amounts of technology smartphones/tablets and making sure I act on or note down things immediately, if I wait it's gone.

Thank you for replying Roger. My son is dyslexic too, he also has aspergers to contend with. We are using notes and a white board to help at the moment.

Twenty years on and my short term memory aint what it was. It is nowhere near as bad as it was in the early days and months following the accident, but it is miles away from being fully recovered, there is a gulf in fact.

Speaking for myself and ONLY for myself, my memory seemed to reach a plateau from where there will be no further progress and the only reason it will get worse is just natural degeneration. After all, I'm not that young any more...

Kirk5w7 profile image
Kirk5w7 in reply to BaronC

Andy, there's no hope for me then!!! I've just lost my phone before going out for a walk, spent a good 10 mins searching handbag twice even thought I'd have to pull settee forward to search under, rang it 3 times , could hear it but it seemed to move whenever I looked where I thought it was, frustration building.

Guess where it was ? In the back pocket of my jeans!!!! No wonder I thought it moved every time I turned round Lol. Need that sense of humour.

Thing is I never put it there, who did that???

Janet Ha Ha

BaronC profile image
BaronC in reply to Kirk5w7

Who are you? Do I know you? :)

Kirk5w7 profile image
Kirk5w7 in reply to BaronC

Nearly got me there very unfair to someone of my age !!!!!!! Xxxxxxx

BaronC profile image
BaronC in reply to Kirk5w7

Oh give over, you're not that old!

Kirk5w7 profile image
Kirk5w7 in reply to BaronC

Ok. I bow to your flattery xx

BaronC profile image
BaronC in reply to Kirk5w7

Quite right, I should think so too! I may have short term memory troubles, epilepsy, partial blindness, headaches, lack of coordination, etc, but I can still flatter occasionally :)

Kirk5w7 profile image
Kirk5w7 in reply to BaronC

You do brighten my days, thank you

After 13 weeks (I am now over 4 years) I thought 'this is it in terms of recovery, they just say I can still improve after the swelling has subsided to cheer me up'. I was massively wrong. The whole concept of 'Early Recovery' meant nothing to me; I assumed I was a right-off and just hidaway as much asI could.

Having a new 'phone no. written down to call I would have to laboriously dial and crosscheck one digit at a time to have any chance. Composing even the most basic message and keeping on track was a Special Needs odyssey. Keeping track of eating let alone cooking was a weight-loss debacle for months.

Those may or may not ring a bell, but I can assure you in all departments I and fellow Headway service users have seen improvements which can't just be seen to be conscious or unconscious 'coping strategies', they must be due to new neural pathways being forged. Less efficient pathways to be sure (hence Brain Fatigue), still compromised but they do an okay job. Contact group sessions for carers/Service Users available through local NHS/Headway could be very useful for yourself and son to get it from the horse's mouth. Where are you based?

Two steps forward, one step back, plenty of frustration along the way but in time he will look back at his current problems and shake his head in disbelief, his improvement will be so marked.

All the best, and I hope his Carers (inc. you!) look after their own mindset while dealing with his anger/frustration/unhappiness issues. Carers need to care for themselves don't forget!

Bards x

headwayuk profile image

Hi Ladyberd70,

We publish a booklet called 'Memory problems after brain injury' that could be helpful here.

While recovery is very different for everyone, many people continue to make improvements some months and even years later. With good rehabilitation that teaches appropriate strategies and memory techniques, the condition can become easier to live with.

If you would like a copy of 'Memory problems' and a couple of our other relevant booklets, please contact our helpline on 0808 800 22445 or Alternatively, send us a private message on here (click our username, then 'Send a message' on the right-hand side) supplying your full name and address.

Best wishes,



Thank you for your replies, they are very helpful. My son is being discharged from rehab next week and the brain injury group is helping to sort out further community rehab.

Hi Ladyberd70. BI 12 months ago, short term not to bad, till car accident Nov, now bad and getting worse, could be down to some other things going on as well.

Hi ladyberd

Yes, I believe its a common symptom to have short term memory problems after a brain injury. Mine was two years ago. Initially short term memory was really poor. in the hospital, I used to take bets that I would not remember to take everything I needed for a shower, to the bathroom. Every day I made three attempts till I got it right! Astonishing, and now very amusing when I look back on it.

Short term memory has certainly improved for me, but I'm expecting it to plateau soon, as the medics all advised that the majority of recovery takes place in the first two years.

I was very driven to sharpen up my brain though and did copius amounts of brain training type exercises., which I know isn't always easy for all to participate in.

I would say there is lots of time for much recovery and I pray that is the case for your son.

Keep positive

My TBI was in 2006 and my short term memory was gone.... along with a few other 'executive functions'. In my case it did not return, but we have strategies in place which make some processes more efficient - and the rest of it makes life interesting.

I attended memory aids programme and that seriously helped. Ironically even though I attended for several months not once in all those visits did I locate the bus stop...despite it being a personal goal I was never able to find my way home from there.

Strategies, gizmos and gadgets along with some pretty nifty fakery and lots of humour gets me through each day...and the beauty of it is if/when I do encounter some embarrassing fail, it is soon forgotten.

Despite my memory being pretty much 'gone for good', other aspects have improved and general made life that bit easier. 13 weeks is still very much early days...I wish your son the best recovery

These have to be the most depressing answers ever. The truth is with Brain Injuries short term memory is hardest to get back. The other truth is, that no two brain injuries are ever the same. Some people make near full recoveries and earn degrees after their brain injuries. You will never know really. Just keep trying to do everything in your power to make sure he progresses in recovery.

My short term memory was rubbish, I had a bottle of shampoo in my hand and didnt know if I had just picked it up to wash my hair or if I'd used it already, and I didn't know how to work that particular problem I cried.

Speaking to people on the telephone I'd switch off, unable to work out who or why people were talking to me, so I put my end down.

Want a drink, go to kitchen, wander around aimlessly, turn around go sit in the lounge. Think I'm thirsty....repeat previous step.

In the beginning it was so difficult to hang on to any thoughts or information. Just moving from one room to the other is very taxing and because you are concentrating on that you forget to remember why you are moving!

Now I follow a daily routine and have planners and diaries. I need a timer/alarm at work to tell me when it's time for breaks or change classes. Although I don't always need the reminder now. If I'm tired I struggle, if I'm ill I struggle.

I don't always eat because I'm busy and don't realise till almost the next meal time that I misse the previous one.

It takes a while to recover but with help and lots of patience it does get better managing what you have.

Oh and it didnt bother me in the early days, I don't remember it. When I became a bit more aware I got frustrated, hen I got used to it was just annoying. Now I've learned to live with it I just grump when I forget things!

Hi, short term memory? It's been 10 years since my accident. Looking at other replies, I am very much the same. If I don't write things down immediately, it's gone. It does improve after time, and I was always prompted to retrain my memory into remembering stuff, but no one actually told me how. I feel that my memory has returned, to a certain degree, but then comes the question, can I trust my memory? So everything is still written down.

Just to add, get working on it as soon as possible. Habituation is very important and, as I know only to well, bad habits get habituated as well as (our even better than!) good ones. For example, I *know* I've got to write things down but, after more years than I care to think about, I still think "yeah, got it, that's simple enough for even me to remember.".... <sigh> ... no, nothing's *that* simple and there's is a 90% chance I will have forgotten it within seconds. Still, if your son had dyslexia, you are probably ahead of the game in terms of the importance of getting organizes (my 11 year had dyslexia!). :-)

This can be a gift in some ways if you find old posts it means you can watch good films more than once, re-read books, the downside here was at first I was half way through a book before I could remember a plot! That's improved now. I've got loads of jigsaws that I can redo.

The trick is don't lose your sense of humour, even when you get so frustrated you could scream xxx

I fell off my bike in July 2005. When my husband used to bring our toddler into hospital to see me, he often brought a year-old baby, too. She was very sweet, but where was her mum? Rob apparently used to say "Pam, I told you yesterday, she's *ours*!" W

When I went home with the occupational therapist in December, I didn't recognize the house he took me to. We had moved there, a year and a half earlier, so we would have room for our second baby. I still don't remember anything about that move (or that second pregnancy), but although I have a couple of year's worth of memory missing from before and after the accident, I have been able to go back to my job, as a university lecturer - so, clearly, my memory now is fine (although that two-year chunk is still missing).

In hospital, I had a little white-board, where my husband would write "Rob will be in on Wednesday morning" (or even, apparently, "Rob has just gone for lunch"!). I *needed* those little reminders. I have it on the wall in the kitchen, now, to use as a shopping list. I really enjoy knowing that I used to NEED it, day-to-day, because my memory was so useless. It has got *so* much better, though.

I make a habit of writing down everything I have to do for work - I have a really detailed calendar, and 'To do' list. I am probably a bit worse than other people, but I cope, fine (so long as I pay attention to recording everything I must do!).

Yes it might be temporary like at your photo albums any any heirlooms you have been given to you like your mothers wedding ring or your fathers wedding ring. show them to your son. I have had 2 attacks of amnesia and i gradually got better has the photos you might have could trigger a lovely memory, never give up or quit be bold and strong and don't let it get you down if the X rays show no damage to your sons brain there he will be long he don't feel pain, if you show stress to him that will not help his recovery also talk to him and tell him and his childhood.

I just wrote about this to someone else. I received my TBI 9 years ago. When I was in rehab, my husband got me a small whiteboard. He would write "Rob will be in on Wednesday morning", or even "Rob will be back after lunch"! It took me a good few months to get my short-term memory back. It is fine now, although I am still missing a couple of years of memory, from a year and a half before the accident, until 6 months after. I didn't remember moving house, or having a gorgeous little baby. I kept asking Rob why he had brought her into hospital, and he'd say "I told you this yesterday - she's *ours*!". I adore her now, thankfully, but I still don't remember her being a young baby.

Give it time. The brain can take a long time to heal itself. It is not done yet! age relevant to the effects on memory - that is do younger people like kids, teenagers early 20's etc., have less problems or improve more quickly? My short terms memor has certainly rapidly got worse since the air-bag hit my face/head in accident, just 9 months after BI.

memory will improve over a period of time mine certainly got a lot better then I had a epileptic grand mal seizure which saw me into Intensive Care for 3 days then another 3 in a ward fortunately physically although weak I could still walk but my memory was noticeable much can take a phone call but if its a date for an apt time need to write it down immediately and yet I can remember all the items when food shopping as more often than not I forget to take list with me so rely on memory that actually works

Thank you to everyone who has replied, I really appreciate it. My son has been discharged from rehab today and is now at home with me. I pray he will be lucky and his memory will improve. He done amazingly well considering the seriousness of his injury. Thanks again.

My memory was not good even a year after my ABI but I learnt to jog memory by using a disry. That is helping. I remember more each day so worth a try.

Hello ... 47 years ago after my TBI the short term memory was very poor; it picked up as time continued but now its very good. Can't process Morse Code though.

Just a weird situation. Had my head accident in October 2017. Just had a conversation today with a colleague about a patient who I had called from the ward about 10/minutes before she asked me..Is patient so and so coming up for an Ultrasound?

I couldn't remember a THING about what she was talking about. I felt so humiliated as she kept repeating to me who she was talking about. Completely blank.

My CT scan Yesterday though showed my brain is back to normal. Although I have these horrible short-term amnesia moments after my accident I wonder if anything can be done about it. It is the least to say VERY annoying working in a hospital not remembering patients...😳. Makes me feel low.

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