Post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) is a type of memory loss that follows an injury from a traumatic event. With it comes the inability to retain new memories or retrieve new information. PTA typically comes after a head injury, usually leading to a comatose state, but it can even be experienced after a mild concussion. Slips, falls, motor vehicle accidents, and sports injuries are leading causes of injury. After a head injury, PTA is a stage in the recovery process. Recovery may be characterized by:

  1. A state of disorientation- the victim is confused in a temporal sense and with relationships;
  2. Being easily distracted;
  3. Difficulty with memory, concentration, and thinking;
  4. Displays of emotional instability.

PTA can be experienced when the injured is partially or fully awake. During this time, individuals will not have a normal functioning memory process, and may have trouble storing events into short or long term memory. They are also highly emotional during this state and may give inappropriate comments even though they will have no recollection. It is important not to take these comments personally and not to challenge the injured. Too much stimulation in terms of noise and conversation can lead to the injured being agitated and uncomfortable. Those suffering from PTA should be in a hospital the entire time during this injury.

Recovery may take anywhere from a few minutes to several months depending on the severity of the situation. Assessment should be in regular intervals to document if there is any increasing frequency with which memory starts to return. In determining the level of recovery from PTA medical professionals will ask the injured questions that relate to orientation in both time and place. If the injured can obtain a perfect score for three consecutive days, this is considered the first stage in the recovery from PTA. Complete recovery is considered an absence of confusion and the ability to lay down new information.

When the injured is finally allowed to go home, it is important that close family and friends need to be around to continue to monitor the person. It is recommended that an outpatient neuropsychology or occupational therapy professional provide follow-up care. Each patient will need individualized instruction for their specific level of recovery and needs. It is best to follow the advice of the attending hospital for further instructions.

A family member of a person who experiences PTA as a result of an injury or accident due to the negligence of others should consult with an attorney immediately. It is important to document any facts surrounding the injury as soon as possible since the injured party may not be able to remember anything. An attorney will be able to handle the case while you care for your loved one.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Your case may be different. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance. If a loved one is experiencing PTA due to an accident, please call one of our attorneys at David K. Kremin & Associates, and we will give you a free consultation. We never charge unless we collect for you. Please call 1(800) ASK-A-LAWYER or 1(800)275-2529.