Since many friends have expressed concerns that they are suffering dementia when their cognitive ability slips, I found this headline from the June 2008 issue of O Magazine intriguing: "Head Trip: Why Your Memory May Be Slipping." It turns out that researchers have discovered that traumatic brain injuries from long-forgotten falls, sports injuries or other accidents that resulted in a blow to the head may be the culprit for unexplained memory loss.
Symptoms from the traumatic brain injuries can include both cognitive and behavioral problems. According to the article, red flags include:
- Not being able to multi-task, handle everyday chores without making simple mistakes, and keeping track of information.
- Misdiagnosis by doctors who utilize the Mini Mental State Exam.
Treatments, such as stimulants, dementia drugs, and cognitive rehabilitiation programs, are available. According to Dr. Jonathan Canick, a neuropsychologist and codirector of the Memory Clinic at California Pacific Medical Center, these treatments do not cure everything or work for everyone. However, he is quoted in the article as saying, "they can either significantly improve a person's cognition or increase mental functioning in general."
If you or a loved one is having a memory problem and want to see if this issue is a result of an unidentified traumatic brain injury, the article suggests talking to a neuropsychologist. To find one locally, check www.nanonline.org.