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Can Concussions Impact Memory or Intelligence?

With up to 3.8 million concussions occurring annually, questions about how a concussion may impact a person’s memory are common. Concussions can occur as a result of an accident or trauma to the brain while playing a contact sport, among other scenarios. A concussion rattles the brain inside the skull and recovery times vary depending upon the individual and severity of the blow to the head. In How Concussions Affect Academics, concussion expert Jonathan French, PsyD, discussed how a concussion may impact a student’s ability to learn while injured.

This injury affects the brain’s cognitive abilities, including those needed to learn and function in school; however, there are a number of things a school can do to help ease the student’s recovery.

In part two of this series, Dr. French addresses how a concussion may impact short- and long-term memory.

RELATED: Concussion and Loss of Consciousness

Can a Concussion Affect My Short-term Memory?

When the brain is injured, it can certainly affect a person’s ability to remember newly presented information. Often, individuals complain that they cannot remember something they just saw, or things that were just said. This is the most common type of memory problem.

Can a Concussion Affect My Long-term Memory?

A person’s long-term memory can be affected by a concussion. However, it is more likely that their short-term memory will be impacted. Most individuals who suffer a head injury are able to remember things that occurred in the past, but may struggle with things that happened recently, especially information they see or hear before seeking treatment or while they are still experiencing symptoms.

Does a Concussion Affect a Person’s Intelligence?

A concussion does not necessarily affect intelligence. Intelligence is a stable trait which includes many aspects of cognitive functioning. Following a concussion, the brain is unable to function as well as it did prior to injury. This is why we typically see some difficulties with memory or academics. However, once the brain recovers there is no change in a person’s overall intelligence.

RELATED: How Concussions Affect Academics – Part One

Are There Any Long-term Impacts on Any of the Above Topics?

Typically we do not see long-term impacts. Most individuals who suffer concussions have difficulty during their period of recovery, but if managed correctly most return to normal functioning without any long-term cognitive difficulties.

To learn more about academic accommodations or the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, visit us online or call 412-432-3681.