Glen Campbell , Memory Loss and Traumatic Brain Injury

Brains are computers that can lose memories, just as do our fancy technologies. However, the brain continues to heal long term and can recover some measure of these lost experiences.
Brains are computers that can lose memories, just as do our fancy technologies. However, the brain continues to heal long term and can recover some measure of these lost experiences.

Memory Loss and Head Trauma

A HubPages member asked in the Q&A section about long term memory loss and others' experiences of it.

While I have never had this personal experience, I have treated patients, as part of a treatment team, that experienced blows to the head. Many of these patients had some memory loss, from minor loss to complete loss of memory about themselves and their lives.

The good news is that the brain probably never stops healing after an injury. It goes on healing for years. We used to think that the time for healing was very short, but research in the last 10 years shows otherwise. In this case, do not give up hope.

A Successful Recovery of Memory

The best results I had with a memory loss patient involved a woman that had hit her head while she was driving and was struck by another driver.

After this individual was released from the hospital, she found that she could remember very little about numbers, especially accounting. This was a problem, because she held a high level accounting position in a large company.

Losing the ability to use numbers and accounting procedures made her job impossible and she was feeling disoriented, helpless, and unhappy. She probably though ehr career was over, and with it, a good portion of her life.

Through several weeks of relaxation therapy followed by mental imagery drills and other brain exercises, this individual regained her abilities in accounting and could resume her high level job and her career.

Source

The Glen Campbell Case - Hope For the Aged and Their Caregivers

In middle age, the brain begins to create additional white matter that connects up the experiences, thoughts, and other information already in the brain and forthcoming into the future. The white matter integrates it all. Thus, older individuals can be quote useful in some problem solving and experiential activities. Gray matter may decrease as brain cells die, but white matter increases generally with age.

Once there were no Alzheimer facilities and family members became very sick in caring for these patients, especially in the 1980s as the numbers of dementia and memory patients increased. They were not even called "memory patients" at the time. They were called "crazy", "senile", and "stupid" - I heard these terms used in public and even a few therapist's offices. It was shameful. Regardless, some physicians in my county refused family members' requests to examine their relatives for dementia and misdiagnosed the patients with Severe Mental Disorders of several varieties instead. This was a disaster.

Happily, the 1990s brought the advent of Alzheimer's Care Centers in some cities and Alzheimer's research and care wings in university medical center. Many books had been written in the 1980s about the sicknesses incurred by family-member caregivers that put them on the SS Disability roles after they lost their jobs as a result of missing time to care for Alzheimer and memory patients. The increasing numbers of memory patients, the increasing sickness and death tolls among family members, and the books helped push the medical community into taking action.

In 2013, singer Glen Campbell announced that he has Alzheimer's Disease and finished a last performance tour. He also recorded two final albums with a different arrangement for many of his long-time hits.

Entering a memory treatment facility in 2014 for his own safety and to relieve his family of 24/7 caregiving, he and his family and treatment team found that music helps him to maintain many of his memories and much of his cognition. He has a guitar with him and performs for the other clients and staff says he feels good.

A documentary film about Glen Campbell’s final tour and his experience with Alzheimer’s disease is called Glen Campbell . . . I’ll Be Me. It premiered at the Nashville Film Festival, April 18, 2014. It won the Grand Jury Honor at the festival.

The advent of the memory care facility has been a blessing.

Additional Memory Loss Cases

I was involved with a few memory loss cases that were of a more severe nature. Some people forgot part of the English language, which was their native language. It was very frustrating for them and often led to depression and anger. The use of specially designed computer programs to stimulate the brain helped over time, but it took many months of almost daily work. Today, a decade later, the computer technology has improved and brain-injured patients are likely helped to a far greater extent in a short time.

HOPE

Wright State University has been working for decades on remedies for severed spinal cords and have achieved profound progress in this field, along with other universities and medical complexes. Brain treatments are improving daily and memory loss will hopefully be a thing of the past one day.

Before Christopher Reeve died, he was able to take steps on his own under water. The water supported much of his weight and the constant physical therapy and other modes of treatment began to help the severed nerves in his spinal cord grow out and re-attach to each other. He had already recovered the feeling in his hands before he became able to take several steps under water.

Considering all of this, don't give up hope.

Ask your doctor about possible treatments or exercises that might work to restore your memory. If your doctor is not encouraging you in this matter, then perhaps you should find another doctor.

From the current research findings, I sincerely believe that the brain never stops healing. It may be a slow process at times and if injury is severe enough, we might not be able to live long enough for complete healing, but go for as much healing as you can get.

In the meantime, try to enjoy who you are now.

One Last Case

Several years ago viewed a film about a woman that suffered complete amnesia in a car accident. She was willing to stay with her husband, even though she no longer knew who he was. Her husband began over with her and took her to the place that they spent their first date, etc. and she fell in love with him again and together they built a very similar life to what they once knew.

At the time I saw the documentary, several years after the traffic accident, this woman loved her husband, but did not remember him from before the accident. He was very sad about it, so I hope he saw a counselor to help him with this. Sometimes memories are not everything. She was alive and in love with him; she could have been killed and was not.

Much success to you, no matter what happens!

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Comments 6 comments

Discover More Now profile image

Discover More Now 7 years ago from Michigan, USA

I have some personal experience with memory loss. I survived a ruptured brain aneurysm about 7 years ago. I still have a major loss of about 20 years my own history. It took about 6 months before I knew all of my family. I still have short term memory problems and I'm working hard to over come some everyday task that everyone takes of granted.

ie:Walking... talking... putting my shirt on right side out.

It's common things but but sometimes things can get quite distracting.

RT...


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Please be encouraged. I have worked in head trauma cases and know that the brain continues to improve over decades of time. Not all memory may return, but some might surely do so.

Exercise and using a computer both help a lot -- and the exercise does not have to be strenuous at all.

When people who have had no brain injury are very tired or don't eat right, they often have the same problems, so they can relate.

Best wishes to you on your continuing recovery!


Marian Swift profile image

Marian Swift 7 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

A friend of mine is still improving, 30+ years after his aneurysm.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

That is encouraging and a triumph we can point out to others. Thanks for letting us know, Marian!


BISG Writer profile image

BISG Writer 7 years ago from Arkansas

It's true the brain is an amazing organ and brain plasticity is real. The brain can compensate for "some" problems. About 19 years ago my wife's short term memory was wiped out by an anoxic brain injury. It still does not function properly.

While time may provide some healing, the person who has lost memory functions or cognitive functions which normally result in behavioral problems wants an immediate fix. This is why compensatory strategies are so important. Most of our book, Brain Injury Survivor's Guide, is about developing these strategies...and carrying your "memory" around in a planner.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

A documentary film of Glen Campbell’s in an Alzheimer’s and memory care facility - "Glen Campbell . . . I’ll Be Me" - premiered at the Nashville Film Festival, April 18, 2014. It won the Grand Jury Honor. Campbell and his family feel that music is helping with his memories and disposition.

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