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30 September 2020 | Comment | Article by Cari Sowden-Taylor

Post Traumatic Amnesia and recovering from an incident you don’t remember – ABI Week 2020

This week, one of our #HJHeroes is running a campaign which aims to raise awareness of brain injury and give a voice to those affected.

Run by Headway, Action for Brain Injury (ABI) Week takes place from 28 September until 4 October. The theme for this year –Memory loss: A campaign to remember-focuses on the ways in which memory problems can affect brain injury survivors and their families, exploring the impact of memory on relationships, recovery and returning to work.

Anu Manda is a trainee solicitor in our Neurolaw team. In this blog, she considers the impact of Post Traumatic Amnesia (PTA) and recovering from an incident you don’t remember.



One of the symptoms often experienced by our clients who are suffering from a traumatic brain injury is Post Traumatic Amnesia. PTA is ‘the time after a period of unconsciousness when an injured person is conscious and awake but is behaving or talking in a bizarre or uncharacteristic manner’ (Headway).

It is often characterised by confusion immediately after a head injury resulting in symptoms such as anxiety, uncharacteristic behaviour and memory loss.

Memory loss caused by PTA can range from a few minutes to months and the length of time with which an individual suffers PTA is usually an indicator of the severity of the brain injury.

Sometimes PTA results in an inability to remember the event that caused the injury which can be a source of stress and upset. A traumatic brain injury has the potential to cause upheaval in many areas of life such as relationships, work, finances, physical and mental health and the ability to carry out daily activities. This, coupled with the inability to remember the event that caused it, can be very distressing.

PTA also has an impact on the person’s friends and family. While they are often expected to be a source of support for the individual, they can also be experiencing the trials and tribulations of watching a loved one suffer the consequences of memory loss, which can lead to further health problems such as depression. There is a huge degree of uncertainty involved when trying to assist a loved one to recover from an event that they do not remember.It can be helpful to speak to others who have witnessed the aftermath of the event or those who have assisted an individual along their way.

Jo Yeoman, Patient Liaison Nurse of EMRTS Cymru, supports families after they have received treatment from the Wales Air Ambulance and helps to fill the missing pieces of the jigsaw which can be really helpful to families after life-changing injuries:

“Many of the patients attended by the Wales Air Ambulance will suffer from memory loss as a result of critical illness or injury but people who have sustained a brain injury are much more likely to have difficulties with both long term and short term memory. It can be very upsetting for someone when they can’t remember what has happened to them, so I aim to fill in these gaps by talking through the treatment that they have received from our critical care team. I actively encourage people to keep their own diaries and can provide a timeline of events from the beginning of their journey which can be linked with hospital diaries and then continued at home. This can help with memory loss but it can also be a useful tool in tracking the progress of their recovery especially if people feel they aren’t making any improvement from da- to-day. Reading back through a diary people can see how far they have progressed and this can also be hugely beneficial to psychological wellbeing.”

This information and support can be extremely helpful to someone after a life-changing injury.

For more information about Post Traumatic Amnesia, visit the Headway website.



About the author

Anu Manda is a trainee solicitor working in the Neurolaw team at Hugh James, which specialises in representing clients who have sustained traumatic brain injuries as a result of accidents which were not their fault. Hugh James offers specialist legal advice to clients after life-changing injuries in a friendly manner and the team is delighted to support charities such as Wales Air Ambulance and Headway in the invaluable work that they do.

Author bio

Cari is a Partner and Joint Head of the National Serious Injury Team, and specialises in representing adult and child claimants who have sustained life changing injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries, limb loss and polytrauma following road traffic collisions, injuries at work and assaults.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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