1. boucle1
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    boucle1 New Member

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    Car accidents and memory loss/other problems/pain

    Discussion in 'Research' started by boucle1, Sep 9, 2011.

    I have a character in a story who gets hit head-on from a car that is going the wrong way on a highway. What kind of damage would the character's car have? What kinds of pain would she have after the accident? Also, what about memory loss? I want the character to have retrograde amnesia (the one that everyone is familiar with). When would she regain her memory/what could she do to help the process along? Thanks for your help!
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that depends on the cars' speed upon impact and what kind of vehicles are involved, plus the angle of the impact and so on... and all of that is up to you to determine, based on what injuries you want the occupants to sustain...

    again, that's up to you... she could have serious fractures and internal injuries, along with cuts, abrasions, etc. that would cause great pain and require heavy painkillers... or she could be only slightly injured if protected by the air bag and have only some aches and minor pains...

    it's still up to you... she'd have had to sustain a pretty serious head injury to have memory loss, unless the shock of the crash caused an emotional trauma so serious that she blocked it out... when she regains her memory could be anywhere from a few hours to never... friends and family could be helpful in jogging her memory, as could familiar surroundings...

    basic info on what you're asking about can be found easily with a bit of creative googling, y'know... and doing the requisite research on your own is part of the 'job' of being a writer...
     
  3. boucle1
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    boucle1 New Member

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    Car accidents

    I understand that I need to do my own research, and I did some searching before I made this post. I was just wondering if someone on here had had a serious car accident since I've never been in one. Please don't make assumptions about what I have or have not done.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i wasn't making assumptions, just trying to be helpful... no offense was intended... i'm sorry if it seemed that way to you... m
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Cool down, cowboy. The way you phrased your question gives no hint that you had done any prior research, and you're askig a writer's forum to give you advice on medical consequences of trauma. Did you consider a medical or police/EMT forum? You'll find much more reliable information if you ask people who have a high probablity of expert knowledge rther than a general population sample.
     
  6. attackamazon
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    attackamazon New Member

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    If I remember correctly from neuropsych class, complete retrograde amnesia of the sort where your entire previous lifetime memory is gone is pretty rare. Most of the time with traumatic brain injuries, only sections of the memory are damaged, so maybe everything you did that day before the accident or you can remember who you are, but you have no idea who anyone else you knew is. The recovery time for RA from traumatic brain injury varies widely depending on the severity of the injury. If you have a great deal of cerebral tissue damage to the temporal lobe and the hippocampus, you may never get the memories back and you will probably also experience other long-term problems with language, object recognition, and pathfinding. I've worked with a guy in a lab setting before who was shot in the side of the head and the recovery time is very long and there are a lot of things affected other than memory. If the damage is less severe, then you will probably be looking at a memory recovery time from a few hours to a week or two for most memories, depending on the type and severity of TBI, with older memories coming back first. Those that were formed directly before the event could feasibly be lost for good.

    You might also want to look into psychogenic causes for RA if you want a more dramatic "complete memory loss" scenario. Fugue state and dissociative amnesia are some interesting ones.
     
  7. CULLEN DORN
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    CULLEN DORN Member

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    Unless 'memory loss' is integral to your storyline I'd try something
    else, as this diagnosis has been done over and over again. But if
    it is integral than I suppose the plot has to be thicken a bit more
    to instill intrigue and suspense as hooks to keep readers transfixed.
    Good luck to you!
     
  8. D-Doc
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    D-Doc Active Member

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    My girlfriend was in a bad car accident a while back. She can still remember pretty good but her short term memory was affected I think. It is harder for her to "digest" or "retain" new info. I should add that it isn't significant at all though, I wouldn't have thought anything of it until she told me her memory was messed up in a wreck.
     
  9. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I was paralyzed for a time from a tumor. If the character had some kind of spinal injury I can give you details on that and the recovery process for something like that. Otherwise I don't have much to contribute here. I've never been in a severe car accident.

    I think an emt forum would be a good place to start.
     
  10. W.Locke
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    W.Locke Member

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    Here's a helpful tidbit for realism. In head on collisions people driving often break their feet/ankles. The rest of the body is held down to the seat pretty well, but the feet bang around and injuries there are pretty common from head on collisions.
     
  11. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    Depends how fast they were both going. With a head-on collision, the effect is the same as if a car going both cars' speeds added together hit a stationary object.

    Modern cars are designed to crumple, by the way, so a bunch of the force gets used up crumpling the front fender instead of mangling the driver. So if the driver is injured, most likely the car is totaled.

    Depends what got injured.

    Since you want brain injury, I'd suggest a severe headache.

    Firstly, you never actually see someone with total retrograde amnesia and nothing else unless it's psychogenic fugue (a dissociative disorder that has nothing to do with brain damage). People with retrograde amnesia typically have chunks of memory missing and others intact, often without much of a clear pattern (although memory of the accident is probably gone even if they have no other amnesia). Secondly, you'll probably see at least some other kinds of damage, such as aphasia, personality changes, paralysis, etc.

    If it's a closed-head injury (which it probably is unless something stabbed through the person's skull), they will most likely loose consciousness. If it's a very mild injury they'll be out only a brief time, but for any appreciable degree of amnesia you're probably looking at a couple of days at least. When they first wake up they will be very confused and have significant cognitive impairment, and probably will not be able to remember their first few awakenings. Over time, they'll get more and more of their abilities back, but by 6 months or so the progress will pretty much stop. If they still have amnesia by then, it's permanent.

    Typically with a car crash you have what's called coup/contre-coup injury. This is caused by the head jerking hard and then suddenly stopping, probably hitting something (eg windshield). The 'coup' is the point of impact, and then the brain bounces off the skull and moves in the opposite direction, hitting on the other side for the 'contre-coup'. Most likely the coup will be at the frontal lobes (unless his head was turned) which means he'll have frontal and occipital damage. The occipital lobe controls vision and visual processing. The frontal lobe controls self-regulation and planning, so damage to it doesn't cause overt cognitive impairment but tends to make them impulsive, moody, disorganized, have poor judgement, etc. Typically people with frontal head injuries don't realize how impaired they are, because self-awareness can be affected by it too. So they'll know if they have amnesia or vision problems or other obvious stuff, but won't realize they have no self-control and no ability to plan ahead.
     

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