Does Trauma Cause Memory Loss?

Apr 14, 2022

Does Trauma Cause Memory Loss?You may be surprised to learn that memory loss is quite common after a car accident. A wide variety of car accident injuries can lead to temporary memory loss that may come back in a few days. After you have been in a car accident, you may have difficulty remembering what happened before, during, or after the event. If you realize you are having trouble with your memory after a car accident, then you want to see a doctor right away. While sometimes memories can return within a few days, memory loss can also be a sign of a more serious injury or issue that needs to be addressed by a doctor. The physical and emotional trauma of a car accident can cause memory loss.

How Trauma Affects Your Brain

When you experience a traumatic incident, it can impact you physically as well as emotionally. Traumatic memory loss after a car accident can occur when your body and brain are under a significant amount of stress. A stress response after a car accident can affect different parts of the brain, some of which control memory function. The psychological stress and trauma of a car accident can cause your brain to lose some of its functioning. A physical injury to the head or brain can cause seizures, as well trauma and memory loss, along with other symptoms.

The prefrontal cortex is part of your brain that helps you remember things on a daily basis, while your hippocampus stores memories like facts you want to remember later. Another part of your brain that helps you process fear-based memories is called the amygdala. This part of the brain can also help you form long-term memories. Stress that negatively impacts the brain can lead to trauma-based memory loss. Both physical and emotional stress can intensify certain symptoms and contribute to your memory loss after a car accident.

Trauma and Memory Loss

If you have ever experienced memory loss before, then you know how frustrating and even scary it can be. Sudden, shocking events can affect the way we process our memories, which is why you may have trouble remembering what happened directly before, during, or after an accident. Sometimes the brain keeps you from remembering something to help you cope with the trauma. Other times, memory loss may be permanent due to a more serious injury or issue. When it comes to dealing with trauma and memory loss, you want to see a highly knowledgeable and skilled car accident doctor who can identify the type of trauma you are dealing with and help prevent further problems.

There are different types of traumas that can cause various symptoms, including temporary or permanent memory loss. Some of the main causes of trauma after a car accident include physical, emotional, or psychological trauma. Physical trauma refers to an injury to your body, like a head or brain injury. A head injury or a stroke can cause damage to your brain and affect your ability to process information like you normally would. Sometimes the brain and body prevent you from remembering something to help protect you from psychological damage. Emotionally traumatic events can cause you to forget the details of what happened, and those memories may be suppressed until you are ready to deal with them.

Car Accident Injuries and Trauma

A car accident can lead to injuries that can affect your memory temporarily or permanently. Here are examples of car accident injuries and how they can impact you.

Head Injury

A head injury is perhaps the most common reason why you might experience some memory loss after a traumatic event like a car accident. A blow to the head, like hitting your head on the window, dashboard, or other part of the car, can lead to a concussion. A concussion is the most common type of traumatic brain injury and can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fogginess, confusion, memory loss. A head injury can lead to brain damage, and one of the first signs might be memory loss, trouble forming sentences, or a delay in your ability to process information.

Neck Injury

Did you know that the most common car accident injury is actually a neck injury? Whiplash is the most common of all car accident injuries and affects the healthy functioning of your neck. When another car collides with yours, it can jostle your body around. While the seat belt helps protect you from shoulder to hip, there isn’t anything preventing your head and neck from snapping forward and backward violently. When this occurs, it can cause the muscles in your neck to strain or tear, leading to a whiplash injury. The jostling and jolting of your head and neck due to a collision can also affect healthy functioning in your brain.

Spine Injury

A spine injury can also have a negative impact on your brain. Your spine connects your brain and nervous system to the rest of the body. Your brain communicates through a complex series of nerves that run through the spinal column and extend out into every part of your body. When the spine is damaged, it can impact the brain’s ability to effectively communicate with the rest of your body. A spine injury can be a traumatic injury that causes serious physical symptoms that must be addressed by a doctor right away.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is more commonly associated with people who have served in the military or lived through an attack or natural disaster. A serious car accident can also lead to PTSD. The types of symptoms you experience and how long you experience them will determine the type of post-traumatic-stress disorder you may have. PSTD can cause symptoms including irrational behaviors, angry outbursts, detachment from loved ones, increased stress, and memory loss.

Types of Memory Loss After a Car Accident

Amnesia is another word for memory loss. After a car accident, you may experience memory loss that happens right away, or it may take you time to realize this is happening. Here are three types of memory loss you may experience after a car accident.

Post-Traumatic Amnesia

Post-traumatic amnesia is a type of traumatic memory loss where you feel confused and have trouble remembering the timeline around a traumatic event like a car accident. This type of amnesia is common after a head or traumatic brain injury.

Anterograde Amnesia

Anterograde amnesia refers to the type of memory loss where you have trouble forming new memories after a traumatic event. This is the most common type of amnesia after a car accident, and many people describe this as “blacking out” after the accident.

Retrograde Amnesia

Retrograde amnesia is a type of memory loss where you start to lose memories you had before the traumatic event. With this type of amnesia, you may start to forget important dates, major life events, or the names of family and friends after a car accident.

How to Treat Traumatic Memory Loss

Visit a car accident doctor as soon as possible if you start to notice memory loss, confusion, trouble focusing, or other signs and symptoms of brain damage after a car accident. A traumatic event like a car accident can take days, weeks, or even months to heal from fully, and you will need to receive effective treatment for the underlying cause of your memory loss. Each person will recover from a car accident injury and memory loss in their own way and at their own pace. A car accident doctor will work with you to manage the symptoms of your car accident injuries along with addressing the root cause of your symptoms. Your car accident doctor will address any damage or injuries to your brain that may affect memory function.

Concussion Care After a Car Accident

If you suffered a concussion from a car accident, then you want to get the best medical treatment as soon as possible. A concussion can cause a range of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms. Sometimes, a loved one might also recognize signs or symptoms of a concussion in you that you may not recognize yourself. Common physical symptoms of a concussion include headaches, trouble with coordination and balance, vision disturbances, nausea, and vomiting. Some symptoms might appear right away, while other symptoms may show up in the hours and days after the initial accident occurred.

Any kind of injury or impact to the head should get checked out by a doctor to determine if you have a concussion.  It is important to get a diagnosis for a concussion as soon as possible after a car accident so you can get the appropriate treatment you need. The sooner you get a proper diagnosis, the sooner your doctor can help reduce any swelling and the risk of further damage to your brain. Your doctor may use a CT scan to take a computerized X-ray of your brain in greater detail. They may also choose to run an MRI, which is another type of highly detailed diagnostic imaging tool that provides your doctor with images of your brain. Once they have been diagnosed with a concussion, they can determine the appropriate recommendations for treatment and care.

Treatment Options for Car Accident Injuries

Your car accident doctor will recommend a comprehensive plan of care to help you recover from your car accident injuries. Treatment options may include working with a team of doctors and through various treatment techniques to help relieve your symptoms and address the injury at the source. Here are examples of car accident doctors and what types of treatments they provide for car accident injuries.

Orthopedic Doctors

Orthopedic doctors are commonly associated with injuries like broken bones, back pain, muscle strains, ligament tears, and more. An orthopedic doctor can assess and diagnose your injuries after a car accident and help you manage the symptoms while you recover. In rare cases, your car accident injuries may require surgery. Orthopedic surgeons perform a wide range of surgical interventions for car accident injuries that treat the root cause of your symptoms and help prevent long-term damage.


Chiropractors offer an all-natural approach to recovery and care after a car accident. If you want to skip the powerful pain medications that come with uncomfortable side effects and risks, then a chiropractor can help. Chiropractors can help with car accident injuries and help restore healthy functioning to your spine, joints, and musculoskeletal system after a car accident.


Neurologists diagnose a wide range of issues and injuries to the brain, spinal cord, muscles, and nerves. A neurologist may be recommended if you have suffered a concussion from a car accident. Any type of recent injury or damage to the head, neck, or spine may get checked out by a neurologist to determine whether the accident has caused any permanent damage. A neurologist may also recommend further treatment and care by a car accident doctor once a diagnosis has been confirmed.

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists help you regain your strength and mobility after a car accident injury. Sometimes an injury may limit your mobility, which can lead to your muscles becoming weak and stiff. A physical therapist can help gently and safely reintroduce movements to help strengthen your muscles and improve your range of motion. Physical therapists create personalized treatment plans for each patient that addresses your specific symptoms, the healing process, and recovery plan.

Visit AICA Orthopedics in Atlanta for all the support you need to recover from car accident injuries. We offer diagnostic imaging tools like X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans on location, so you can meet with your doctor and get the scans you need all in one convenient location. Our team of car accident doctors includes orthopedic doctors, chiropractors, neurologists, and physical therapists who will develop a personalized plan of treatment and care for you. We offer a wide range of services with a multi-specialty team all in one place, and we will be there with you from your initial evaluation through treatment and beyond. Visit us online or call to schedule an appointment and get started with our team of highly qualified and skilled car accident doctors near you at AICA Orthopedics in Atlanta.



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