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Brain Injury News and Research – Memory Compensation

Any person who has sustained a brain injury, whether it was at birth or later, may have memory problems. These can range from losing track of a conversation and forgetting names, to getting lost, to struggling with learning. Many survivors, however, learn memory compensation techniques to make up for their challenges.

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These techniques can include internal ones that allow one to use mental tricks such as mnemonics, which can include using acronyms, phrases, or rhymes to remember words and bits of information. Imagery and other means of association may be used as well. External strategies may also be used, such as calendars and personal devices. A number of other memory aids may help too.

Common Memory Compensation Techniques

Writing things down in a notebook can help an individual manage important details. Organizing that notebook into sections can give them a chance to keep information on to-do lists and calendars, so they are reminded of appointments, meetings with friends, and work schedules. In fact, many forms of note-taking can help. Writing down information is one way, and one can also use Post-it notes or even a chalk or bulletin board at home. Smartphone notepads work as well.

Additional strategies include:

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  • Setting alarms for events, daily activities, and important tasks such as taking medications (medication boxes help remember days and times to take what pills).
  • Picking a place for important items, such as near entryways, such as wallets and keys.
  • Repeating information several times so that it is more likely to be remembered.
  • Adding labels to doors, cabinets, and dresser drawers to remind them where to find things.
  • Repeating and restating information during conversations to aid recall.
  • Using digital voice systems to set reminders; recording messages may be easier for someone with motor limitations.

In short, an organized environment can help compensate for memory problems, or at least be filled with reminders that guide them along.

Ways to Improve Short Term Memory

In addition to mnemonics and outside memory aids such as notebooks diaries, checklists, charts, and voice recorders, there are other tricks to work on short term memory. One can try breaking information down into smaller chunks, which can be repeated to make it easier to remember. This simplifies information in a manner that children are taught. It can also help to reduce distractions that can distract from memorizing something. Reminding oneself to keep focused may also help to improve memorization.

It may be impossible to fix all the cognitive impairments a brain injury sufferer might have. Instead, compensating for the deficits can be an effective way of getting around them. External aids can do a world of good. However, the one chosen depends on who is using it and what their specific injury, abilities, and challenges are. The environment, activities, and tasks should be considered as well. For example, a child who needs to keep track of homework assignments can use a checklist on their notebook, or a cell phone user can program the alarm on their device to set reminders in advance of an activity or appointment.