CNN Health published a unique article this week discussing the way that traumatic brain injury symptoms often seem to come straight out of the movies. It makes for great drama when a movie character loses their ability to process memories, changes personalities, and otherwise has severe cognitive consequences without outward visible injury. But watching a movie about a traumatic brain injury is one thing-having to live with it is another.
CNN‘s health director wrote that most of the public fails to realize how common these injuries are-affecting 1.7 million people each and every year. That group includes more mild injuries that can heal with rest to severe head trauma that results in long-term comas and death.
As our Chicago brain injury attorneys noted last week, another major Hollywood movie is making its debut focusing the effects of brain injury. “The Vow” opened this week starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, about a couple’s love stretching to the brink as a result of a wife’s brain injury. In fact, the movie is based on a true story about one family’s struggle to keep their marriage alive amid a devastating injury.
In the movie a young couple gets caught in a serious car accident. The wife suffers a traumatic brain injury. As a result of the injury she loses all her memories of the past five years of her life. It was during those five years that she met and fell in love with her husband. That means that she has no recollection of who he is or her relationship with him. He is now a stranger. Of course, the woman is completely confused about the situation, but her husband remains devoted to her. They decide to start all over-dating as if they had just met.
The story makes for interesting drama, and, amazingly, most of it actually occurred for Kim and Krickett Carpenter. The doctor sharing the story explains that this is a perfect example of how the body, particularly the brain, is stranger than fiction. He summarized, ‘if you can imagine it, it’s probably happened, and a lot of things you’d never imagine have happened too.”
The doctor describes in detail the variations of memory loss. Our Illinois brain injury lawyers are familiar with these issues, as they have affected residents in our area. In general there are two main forms of memory loss. Anterograde memory loss refers to an inability to form new memories for a period of time after the injury. Retrograde, which is less common, involves losing memories of things that happened before the injury.
However, the movie glamorizes the situation a bit too much. In most cases, a brain injury not only causes memory loss, but other problems as well. Often an individual’s personality changes in significant ways. For example, for Kim Carpenter, rekindling romance with her husband was just as much about dealing with the altered personality as much as regaining memories. It is important for all observers to keep this reality in mind as they watch movie portrayals of these situations.
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