Many people in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country are affected by traumatic brain injuries each year. In fact, 1.7 million people suffer from TBIs annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Because the brain is the most complex part of our bodies, the severity and effect of a brain injury can vary depending on the victim and the circumstances of the injury. This point was made in a new Hollywood film that is based on real-life events.
The film tells the story of a young married couple that is involved in a catastrophic car accident that leaves the wife with a traumatic brain injury. The brain damage suffered by the wife results in her losing memory of the past five years of her life.
The couple met and got married within those five years, so they must start from the beginning and fall in love all over again, which provides a romantic storyline. But a doctor contributing to CNN said that the movie is not completely unrealistic.
He said that following a TBI, people can lose memory in one of two ways. The most common form is anterograde memory loss, the doctor said. This leaves a TBI victim with the inability to form new memories for a period of time after the injury.
The less common form of memory loss after a TBI is called retrograde memory loss, the doctor said. This can result in a TBI victim losing access to memories for a block of time in the past, like in the movie. Typically, the period of “lost time” is short, but there have been cases of people losing a year or more of memory.
Where the movie departs from reality, the doctor said, is how the wife suffers no other effects from the TBI other than memory loss. In real life, people with serious brain injuries like this typically experience major changes in personality and behavior as well.
Source: CNN, “Doctor: ‘The Vow’ shows our brains are stranger than fiction,” Dr. Charles Raison, Feb. 10, 2012