It is a known fact that memory problems are a common effect of brain injury. While there are no cures available, there are different ways to cope and make life easier.
I owe my success in overcoming and managing my injury barriers to a range of memory management strategies. I relied on them over the years since my accident when I was 16 years old, where my prognosis was life in a vegetative state or death. Thirty-three years post severe traumatic brain injury, and I still use various tools to help me cope and handle my daily activities efficiently and effectively.
Improving Quality of Life After Brain Injury
Since I cannot rely on my memory alone to remember specific details and information, I need to utilize external memory aids and strategies to reduce the demands on my memory. By creating my own memory system, I was able to develop a safety net for things I need to remember, from the most mundane tasks, like paying my bills, to making sure that I don’t forget important events and appointments.
The challenges of post-traumatic brain injury
Neural fatigue, short-term memory, and concentration issues are just some brain barriers I experienced after my severe traumatic brain injury. My life was turned upside down, and I was thrown into a cycle of frustration and hardships at a young age where I should be enjoying life as I transition to adulthood. But it wasn’t the case for me because I needed to relearn everything and retrain my brain to do things I used to do.
Whether you have the same condition or are dealing with acquired brain injury, it’s common to encounter these issues. But those limitations should not stop you from reaching your full potential.
You need to learn to maximize your resources and get out of the blame loop. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in an endless cycle of condemning your situation and others and making excuses. Bear in mind that brain healing is possible, and you are not alone.
Bouncing back from setbacks
Despite the challenges, I managed to go to university through hard work. I was also determined to prove the doctors wrong. Although their medical opinions did not offer much hope, I knew I could rise above my condition and live a successful life, which I did!
I am the best-selling author of Holding on to Hope: Finding the ‘New You’ after a Traumatic Brain Injury. Instead of giving up trying, I used my negative prognosis as a powerful motivator to succeed in life and help others. I am also an accredited mediator and a rehabilitation counselor.
The Use of Mnemonics as My Memory Aid
I didn’t reach this far without help. I do a lot of work behind the scenes to manage all the tasks I need to accomplish in my everyday life. I also realized that no matter what the problem, there is always a resource or strategy tool out there to help you obtain your highest potential. Among the strategies that helped me, even today, are brain tricks like mnemonics.
What are mnemonics
Mnemonic is another term for memory tool or memory aid designed to help improve your ability to remember and focus the brain on recalling information. Mnemonics also refer to the techniques used for repackaging information, which allows the brain to store it safely for use at the right moment.
You may not be aware, but mnemonics have been used for years, and you might have even heard some of them before. Students often use them to remember rules, figures, events, spellings, or facts. They turn a list into acronyms, or you form an image that promotes information recall when you need it.
A common example is the acronym ROY G. BIV, referring to the colors of the rainbow. It could also be a short song, phrase, or something that can be easily remembered. For instance, you may use a phrase to help you remember a series of numbers.
In other words, mnemonics use association to remember information or things with data. Some types of mnemonics are used to remember information based on things that are already known.
How I used mnemonics in my daily life
My favorite is the story mnemonic, which works well when remembering lists, like when I need to buy things at the grocery store without writing them down. I turn that list of things into a crazy story to help my brain remember.
How it’s done is you develop an image or story that connects pieces of information you have to remember. Every item will lead you to recall the next one from the list. For example, imagine you need to remember to bring several items to work in the morning, such as your laptop, signed documents, wallet, keys, and contracts. You need to create a story using those items, and often, adding a bit of humor or interesting details will make it easier for you to recall information.
Keep in mind that well-told and creative stories are always memorable. A storytelling strategy enables you to link unique image clues into long chains to remember processes, lists, and various points to want to make.
Using mnemonics isn’t only beneficial in restoring and recalling information but also essential in improving focus. It allows you to organize data for encoding and recall larger bits of information.
Mnemonic devices work because remembering things related to our knowledge is easier since we only need to connect them with what we already have stored in our memory. Instead of remembering new ideas, events, or information, associating it to things we’re already familiar with does not put too much strain on our brain or limits the work our memory has to do.
There are always many valuable resources, tools, and techniques anyone with brain injury can use to help improve their life and bounce back from the challenges caused by their condition. Yes, it required hard work, patience, and determination, but it’s worth it, especially if all of your efforts have paid off.