Post-traumatic amnesia is the transient state of altered brain function that may follow a traumatic brain injury. At a practical level, an individual has emerged from post-traumatic amnesia when he or she is fully orientated and with return of continuous memory. However, the clinical manifestations are often more complex, with numerous cognitive domains commonly affected, as well as behaviour. In the acute setting, post-traumatic amnesia may easily go unrecognised; this is problematic as it has important implications for both immediate management and for longer-term prognosis. We therefore recommend its careful clinical assessment and prospective evaluation using validated tools. Patients in post-traumatic amnesia who have behavioural disturbance can be particularly challenging to manage. Behavioural and environmental measures form the mainstay of its treatment while avoiding pharmacological interventions where possible, as they may worsen agitation. Patients need assessing regularly to determine their need for further rehabilitation and to facilitate safe discharge planning.
- head injury
- behavioural disorder
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Contributors POJ conceived the paper. TDP and RR wrote the main draft and contributed equally to the work. All other authors critically revised the paper and approved the final version. POJ is the guarantor.
Funding TDP is funded by a NIHR Clinical Lectureship.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned. Externally peer reviewed by Alan Carson, Edinburgh, UK, and John Baker, Cornwall, UK.
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