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Question
I had a fall aged 4 yrs and suffered head injuries as a result of bullying aged 5 to 11 yrs I all so have memory problems is there a test to see if its all the same

Answer
Hello Alison,

I've read your question a few times over, before giving you this reply. I hope that I am able to offer you a useful response; I have tried to make it as thorough as possible.

I understand that because of both a fall, and also because of head injuries sustained as a result of bullying, you experience memory problems. I would hope that, because of your memory problems, you are under the care of a Specialist Doctor (Neurologist). Memory loss occurs when a person loses the ability to recall events and information that usually they would be able to remember. These could be things that happened only a short while ago, or they could be things from further in the past.

There are different types of memory loss (also called AMNESIA), that relate to the nature of the events/information that you find it difficult to recall:

1. If the things you struggle to remember are only recent in time, then you may be experiencing SHORT TERM MEMORY LOSS.
2. If the things you struggle to remember are things that took place after a specific incident (that caused the memory loss), then you may have ANTEROGRADE AMNESIA. Anterograde amnesia is the loss of ability to create new memories after the event that lead to the amnesia.
3. If the memories that you struggle to recall are from much further back in time, then you may be experiencing LONG TERM MEMORY LOSS, or RETROGRADE AMNESIA.

After a traumatic head injury, it may be common for people to experience various cognitive problems, including problems with attention and concentration, problems with speech and language, problems with learning and memory, problems with reasoning, planning and problem-solving. YOU will be aware what problems you are experiencing, and what type of memory loss you are dealing with.

Cognition is usually evaluated by a Neurologist, or Neuro-Psychologist. It is very important that you discuss any problems you are experiencing with people involved in providing treatment, care and support for you (Doctors, etc.). It is also very important that you receive treatment and care from a person who specializes in the treatment of people with memory loss due to past head injury, and is fully trained/qualified to do so (i.e. the Neurologist or Neuro-Psychologist).

Now, I do not know what treatment you received at the time of your original injury, but I am assuming that because you sustained a head injury, you underwent a brain scan of some variety (MRI or CT scan). These sorts of neuroimaging tests can discover the extent of brain damage, and the areas of the brain affected. You may also have undergone neurological examinations and neurophysical tests (things that will look at your level of memory recall, your coordination, your spatial orientation - things such as these). The results of any tests and scans carried out should be held within your MEDICAL RECORDS. Because you have a long term health condition, as a result of your injuries, I would hope that such records are still available, and that medical staff can update your records with new information (as well as making comparisons with old test results) on an on-going basis.

To assess whether your memory has improved, deteriorated, or stabilized you would be required to undergo similar tests again now. The results could be compared to results from any tests you had in the past.

Neuro-Psychological tests can vary, and the type of tests you receive(d) may be decided upon by the individual practitioner. However, the following are a selection that could be used:

a) THE STROOP COLOUR TEST and the 2&7 PROCESSING SPEED TEST are both used to assess and detect deficits in the speed of mental processing.
b) NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT in which you may be asked about your main problems, how these problems affect day to day life, how you are coping, what your goals are in life... this will help determine the sort of assistance and treatment you may require.
c) Tests of memory are numerous, and include the WECHSLER MEMORY SCALE (WMS), the CAMBRIDGE PROSPECTIVE MEMORY TEST, the MCI SCREEN, DOORS AND PEOPLE, as well as the CALIFORNIA VERBAL LEARNING TEST. The type of test you are offered may well be dependent upon the nature of your amnesia, therefore I am not going into detail as to the exact nature of the tests. Some take the form of questionnaires, some are like games, whilst others involve real-life situations.

I can only advise you that if you have concerns, your best thing to do is raise these concerns with your medical practitioners (the people responsible for providing care and treatment to you), and also asking to be seen by a Neurologist or Neuro-Psychologist (ask for a referral to such a person if you are not already under their care). Once you are under the care of the correct person, you should be able to address the issue of memory loss, and testing far more effectively.

I hope that this answer has at least provided you with some assistance, or things to consider. I do hope most sincerely that you are able to secure the care and treatment that you require to assist in your recovery and rehabilitation.

Regards,
Elaine Ellis.

P.S. Just a few things for you maybe to look up, or read...

1. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuropsychological_test (this page on-line gives more advice and information about Neuro tests).

2. www.headway.org.uk > About brain injury > Effects of brain injury (this gives you a lot of information and advice about the effects of head injury, as well as some treatments).

3. www.clinicalpsychology.org.uk (this tells you about what clinical Psychologists do, as well as how you can access their services).

4. www.braincurve.co.uk/neuropsychological-assessments/ (this article has actually been written by a Neuro-Psychologist and it gives you helpful advice and guidance about what to expect of you are to undergo an assessment).

Hope some of this stuff helps. Best wishes!

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Elaine Ellis

Expertise

I am happy to respond to a wide variety of questions. I understand that everyone's experience of disability is very personal in nature - dependent upon such factors as circumstances, life experiences, personality, support networks... Therefore, I would expect questions to be highly variable in nature. In the main, I would be happy to respond to questions which ask about the nature of disabilities (conditions), about diagnosis and treatment, about living with disability (its effect upon social and working life), and about means of support. I am also happy to answer questions that many consider to be sensitive, or personal, in nature; I will do so with as much empathy, and sensitivity, as I can. These include questions about the effects of disability upon relationships, or questions relating to the emotional aspect of disability (for example, disability leading to depression). Obviously, I will be unable to respond to questions concerning subjects with which I am unfamiliar, or which require a level of detail in the response that I am simply unable to provide. However, I will generally point out where I am "out of my depth", and will either state this, or will ask permission to research my response a little longer before committing to it.

Experience

My experience in the field of disability is both personal, and professional. I have a B.A. Honours Degree in Social Work (with professional Dip. S.W.) from Lancaster University. I have spent several years working as a Social Worker; initially within Mental Health Services (a medium secure facility), then in a Hospital Discharge Team, and finally in Adult Community Services. I am currently undertaking further "career development", and am part way through postgraduate studies in Psychology. Professionally, I have worked with mentally disordered offenders, with people returning home from hospital, and with elderly and disabled adults living in the community. I have knowledge of the mental health system; of treatments, diagnoses and of side-effects. I also have knowledge of the home care system, and of arranging residential care. Personally, I class myself as a disabled person - although, I must admit that the realisation of this was slow to dawn! I can empathise with many who have for years attempted to cope with as minimal aid as possible, either through lack of knowledge concerning disability rights, or through lack of available assistance. I have long-term health problems that include Endometriosis (a gynaecological condition), chronic respiratory (sinus) problems, Asthma, chronic low Iron levels, and M.E. (chronic fatigue/ fibromyalgia). My Endometriosis was finally diagnosed, after YEARS of suffering, in 2011. I have since had THREE surgeries. I have also had sinus surgery, and am awaiting intensive treatment for my M.E. I trust this qualifies me adequately to assist others with queries concerning disability!

Education/Credentials
O-Levels (with grades): (1987) English Literature (A) English Language (A) Art (A) French (A) German (B) Mathematics (C) Biology (C) Physics (C) Chemistry (C) A-Levels (with grades): (1990) General Studies (B) French (C) English Literature (C) German (C) R.S.A. level one Computer Literacy and Information Technology (1995) Certificate: Teaching English As A Foreign Language (1998) B.A. Honours Degree in European Studies with German (1994) 2:1 B.A. Honours Degree in Social Work with Dip.S.W. (2003) Currently undertaking postgraduate study in Psychology.

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