Research – summer appeal 2018
“Memory is the diary we all carry with us”
Our memory is a crucial part of our life. If we think about times that we forget important information, it is easy to recall how distressing this can be.
In people who have an acquired brain injury (some sort of injury to the brain from a stroke, or head injury for example), memory problems are very common.
Whilst there are many different types of memory that scientists have discovered and researched, our verbal memory is perhaps one of the most important for functioning day-to-day.
Verbal memory is our memory for written or spoken words. It includes what people say to us as well as what we read or hear on television.
After a brain injury, people may have trouble remembering really important things like details about their diagnosis, what the future holds, or the pros and cons of what life may be like if they are discharged back to their own home versus going to a care home.
Whilst we currently use a number of techniques to help people with their memory difficulties, there is a vital need to develop these further. Deeper research will ensure we can equip patients as much as possible with the skills and information they will need once they leave the hospital.
That’s why this year our dedicated research team will be focusing on simple methods to help our patients improve their memory skills.
The team will investigate a very simple technique – giving patients a brief rest after they have learnt some information, to see if that rest period helps them retain the information for longer. The results gained from this technique will be compared to results from patients who engaged in a different task after learning new information, rather than taking a brief rest.
There are some in-depth scientific explanations for why resting helps memories; the simple reason is that after learning something, when a brain is left to think distraction free, it starts working on that information and strengthening it in its memory centres, so later on it’s more complete when recalled.
On the other hand, if we have to do another task straight after learning something, our mental resources are competing against each other, meaning the brain has to do a lot of hard work to strengthen the first thing and continue with the next. As you can imagine, when someone has a brain injury, this task becomes very tricky.
While the existing research on this topic is very convincing, it has only been tested under laboratory conditions.
To confirm the benefits of ‘rest for memory formation’ we need to assess whether the technique can work in the more practical setting of a hospital ward.
Ultimately we hope that this research will offer brain injury patients a simple way to improve their memory, helping them to engage more effectively with their rehabilitation and make more informed decisions about their future outside the hospital.
Our project on memory is just one of the many brain injury research projects we carry out, and all of our research is funded by donations from supporters like you.
We’re hoping that you’ll support our patients today with a donation towards our memory research.
We need to raise £15,000 to complete this project and publish the results, not just for our patients but for the benefit of anyone living with a brain injury. Whatever you can give will be appreciated and make a real difference.
Supporting our Research Programme means you’ll be helping even more patients, giving them the tools and techniques they will need to live independent lives with a brain injury.
Please give what you can today.