Amnesia is a condition involving memory loss, which can cause people to lose their ability to memorize information and/or could cause people to be unable to recall information. Prevention of amnesia Amnesia: Memory loss can be associated with many different conditions in today’s medical fields such as amnesia, Alzheimer’s disease, different forms of dementia, depression, or even a brain tumor.
These conditions have similarities yet differences to define each one as a different illness. Amnesia is a well-known condition that is associated with memory loss in today’s medical world, which can cause people to lose their ability to memorize information and could cause people to be unable to recall familiar material. Amnesia comes in various forms of memory loss; the two most frequently seen forms of this are anterograde amnesia and retrograde amnesia. Anterograde amnesia is when the brain gets damaged and new information after the incident cannot be stored.
The patient that has had this happen to him can remember aspects of life that has happened before the incident (Nordqvist 2). New information that is gained after the occurrence cannot be stored. The International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation describes this condition: Anterograde amnesia refers to a deficit in encoding new information subsequent to a given and specific event in time, for instance trauma due to an accident or the onset of brain damage. Consequently, new information cannot be or is partially retained by the individual, which leads to a learning disorder.
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This type of amnesia can be partial (some of the information is forgotten), and often underlies the individual's subjective complaints; or total, and is therefore characterized by the individual's inability to recall daily life activities or progressive loss of information. Retrograde amnesia is contrary to anterograde amnesia. After a traumatic event, the individual cannot remember certain things that happened before it took place but can normally remember anything that takes place after the incident.
The degree of how much that can be remembered before the incident all depends on the amount of damage to the brain (de Guise 1). Amnesia comes with diverse symptoms. The two main symptoms are “impaired ability to learn new information following the onset of amnesia” and “impaired ability to recall past event and previously familiar information” (Mayo Clinic Staff 2). Other signs consist of confusion, disorientation, false recollections, uncoordinated movements, inability to identify the current president, and many others.
Any head injury that causes any of these symptoms could be a sign of amnesia. The brain is a complex operating system that controls the body. The brain also controls memory. Damage from “accidents, encephalitis, or conditions that interrupt blood supply from the brain” can result in amnesia (Thompson and Madigan 119). Additional causes of amnesia can be but are not limited to such things as stroke, lack of oxygen to the brain, long-term alcohol abuse, and brain tumors. Lenore Terr, a clinical professor of psychiatry, states that a very common cause of retrograde amnesia is a concussion.
Amnesia can also come about from emotional shock. This dissociative amnesia can be associated with being a victim of a crime, sexual abuse, child abuse, combat, and any other “intolerable life situation, which causes severe psychological stress and internal conflict”. When a person thinks that he has amnesia, he should take several steps to determine what it is and what should be done about it. The first step is to seek help from a doctor. An appointment should be made to determine what the patient’s symptoms are indicating.
In most cases, the patient takes a family member with them to their appointment to be able to help answer questions that the patient may not know or remember. At the appointment the doctor is very likely to ask questions such as “Were you involved in any trauma? ”, “When did you first notice your memory loss? ”, and “Does anything help to improve your memory? ” . The doctor will do an evaluation to dismiss other possible causes of memory loss like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression, or a brain tumor.
Harvey S. Levin, Ph. D. , Vincent M. O’Donnell, M. A. , and Robert G. Grossman, M. D. developed an amnesia test of their own. This test consists of 15 questions. For each question the patient gets wrong, a number is deduced in the error score column. After all questions are completed, the doctor adds up the error score column and subtracts it from 100. Scores that range from 100-76 strengthens that the patient is normal, 75-66 implies the patient is borderline amnesia, and anything below 66 confirms the patient is impaired.
Another exam that will be done is a physical exam. This will test reflexes, balance, and other components that deal with the brain or nervous system. It may be necessary to do imaging tests as well to look at the brain. This could include an MRI, a CT scan, or an EEG scan. These tests will determine if there is any physical damage to the brain or identify if something is abnormal about it. Once amnesia is diagnosed there are few things to be done to help the patient. Medical News Today states that in most cases amnesia resolves itself without treatment.
Even though there are no current drugs to help the restoration of memory, different types of therapy may help to reestablish recollections. These can include psychotherapy, hypnosis, and occupational therapy. Some people are turning to technology for assistance; PDA’s or other hand held devices are helping patients to remember their everyday tasks more easily. The most important factors to treating amnesia is family support. Families can help “nudge patients back into their environment” if they are surrounded by familiar objects and people (Nordqvist 8).
Amnesia can be prevented if the right precautions are taken. Any damage to the brain can cause amnesia, so a person needs to take any step they can to protect it. For instance, wearing a helmet while riding a bike will shield the brain from any injury in case there is a blow to the head. Avoiding excessive alcohol use is another precaution (Mayo Clinic Staff 8). Another great preventative measure to take is to make sure to treat any infection quickly (Mayo Clinic Staff 8). By doing this it will secure the infection from being able to spread to the brain.
Protecting the brain in any form that is possible is the best prevention of amnesia. Memory loss is a very serious condition that can come in many different forms including amnesia. A sign of amnesia is when people lose their ability to memorize information and are unable to recall facts. Even though there is no medical drugs to treat this condition as of now, the importance of seeking help from a medical expert to confirm if it is amnesia or not is very high. With other forms of treatments available, this condition could be reversed or fixed with a coping method.
The brain controls every part of our body in some form or another. Protection of the brain is the key essential to preventing amnesia due to it controlling one’s memory. If taking care of the brain and shielding it can prevent amnesia, why would someone not take the proper steps to do so?
- de Guise, Elaine. 2012. Amnesia. In: JH Stone, M Blouin, editors. International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation. Web. Levin, Harvey S. , Vincent M. O'Donnell, and Robert G. Grossman. "The Galveston Orientation and Amnesia Test. " UTMB Health | The University of Texas Medical Branch | UTMB. du. N. p. , n. d. Web. 29 Sept. 2012.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. "Amnesia - MayoClinic. com. " Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 11 Oct. 2011. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. Nordqvist, Christian. "What Is Amnesia? What Causes Amnesia?. " Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl. , 14 Jul. 2009. Web.
- Terr, Lenore. Unchained memories: true stories of traumatic memories, lost and found. New York, N. Y. : Basic Books, 1994. Print.
- Thompson, Richard F. , and Stephen A. Madigan. Memory: the key to consciousness. Washington, D. C. : Joseph Henry Press, 2005. Print.
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