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Amnesia poses unique challenges

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Many Virginians may be familiar with amnesia due to its common use as a dramatic device in television and the movies. In reality, a person suffering from amnesia, also known as amnestic syndrome, may face a set of circumstances much different from that depicted in the media.

Amnesia may result when a person suffers a serious head injury that leads to damage to the part of the brain essential for memory processing. Such a brain injury may lead to a person having trouble forming new memories and learning new information, though the victim is often lucid and aware of who he or she is as a person. A person suffering from amnesia typically loses memories that relate to facts, experiences and information.

The form of amnesia that results from a brain injury or other brain damage is known as neurological amnesia, and commonly arises in a person who has suffered a stroke or failed to receive adequate oxygen to his or her brain, as could happen in a botched medical procedure.

Amnesia may be permanent, or a person may experience a temporary episode, known as transient global amnesia. Unfortunately, a specific course of treatment does not currently exist for those persons who are suffering from amnesia, though there are coping methods and strategies designed to help a person with amnesia, and his or her loved ones, deal with the condition effectively. Memory training with an occupational therapist may prove beneficial as a person learns to replace information that he or she has lost, as well as to learn strategies for improved memory.

If your loved one is suffering from amnesia, legal recourse may be available, and legal damages may help cover expenses for long-term care. An attorney may be able to offer guidance.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Diseases and Conditions: Amnesia," accessed Jan. 15, 2016

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