50 year old man with TBI

by Phil
(Portland, Oregon, USA)

I had an ATV accident in Sep 08. Was in a severe coma for 3 months. I have bad short-term memory still... and looking to improve it.

memory problems story
Peoples names seem to be hardest to remember. Anyway, hello! Phil

Doug's Reply. Whenever I hear about an experience like your traumatic brain injury, I'm reminded of the fragile nature of our existence. All it takes is one accident like the one you had to change the course of someone's life.

With regard to remembering people's names, your best bet is to learn the Name-Face memory technique. As you probably know, even people who have not had a TBI have trouble remembering names. That's why this technique is useful for almost anyone.

The Name-Face technique makes use of the fact that your brain remembers images (mental pictures) more easily than words. The idea is to think of an unusual, made-up image that reminds you of the person's name. Then you associate that image with a memorable feature on their face.

The steps go something like this:

1) Get the name.
2) Make the name concrete.
3) Find a distinctive feature on their face.
4) Make a mental picture associating the name with the face.
5) Review the association.

Whenever you are introduced to someone new, you obviously need to hear their name if you are to have any chance of remembering it. So listen very closely when they say their name. If you don't quite get the name, ask them to repeat it or even spell it for you.

As you talk with them, look at their face for any usual, memorable feature. For example, a large nose, prominent eyebrows, a mole, a scar, anything really. Then think of a crazy image that connects the sound of their name with the feature on their face.

For example, not long ago I was introduced to a lady named Barb. I noticed right away that she wears a certain style of glasses with a thick, black frame that I haven't often seen.

The sound of her name "Barb" reminded me of barbed wire, the type used in fences. So I imagined clearly in my mind a coil of barbed wire wrapped around her black glasses frames.

This worked quite well. The second time I saw Barb, the image of the barbed wire wrapped around her glasses popped immediately into my mind. I had an "aha" moment, and remembered her name immediately.

It really only takes something simple like that to act as a "hook" for your memory. Have you ever had the experience of thinking the person's name was on the "tip of your tongue"?

In fact, their name was certainly in your brain, but you could not find the right "handle" to pull it into your conscious mind. The Name-Face image that you create when you first meet the person provides that link.

For more about the Name-Face technique, see my Remembering Names page.

Best of luck to you, Phil. I can tell from your upbeat tone that you are not letting your TBI injury get you down. A positive attitude is what anyone with a brain injury must have in order to make progress in their recovery.

This is information only. It is not medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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