My wife suffered memory loss as a result of a brain injury she suffered in a traffic accident. What should I be aware of regarding this cognitive injury?

Memory is a complex neurological process and, depending on the area of the brain that was injured, a victim of a TBI can suffer from different memory impairments, including the following:

  • Short-term memory impairment, which makes it difficult or impossible to retain information from about twenty seconds ago.
  • Long-term memory impairment, which makes it difficult or impossible to retrieve information from a few days ago to a few decades ago.
  • Retrograde impairment, which makes it difficult or impossible to remember events that took place before the brain injury.
  • Anterograde impairment, which makes it difficult or impossible to recall events that happened after the brain injury.

These damages can occur by themselves or in combination with other memory impairments. Whichever cognitive impairment your wife is suffering from, it is important that you are aware of the fact that she might not even be aware of her memory loss. If she is unaware of her cognitive impairments, she might become angry and belligerent about a certain task or life in general because she knows something isn’t right but doesn’t realize her head injury created certain deficits.

It is best not to be confrontational with your wife or compare her to her old self. Instead, you will want to help boost her confidence and build self-esteem. You can do this by saying “good job,” smiling, and being encouraging.

There are many more tips that could help you deal with your wife’s cognitive impairment, and we encourage you to read our article about helping a brain injury survivor with memory loss. You may also want to join a support group for families of brain injury victims and make sure your wife is getting help from the right professionals.