In this section
Post Traumatic Amnesia
(PTA) is one of the stages of recovery after a traumatic brain
injury. During this stage, the child or young person may seem confused
and disorientated. How long the PTA lasts depends on how severe the
injury was. When the child is out of PTA they can start other
rehabilitation that needs more memory skills.
When a child or young person
is 'waking up' after being in a coma, they may seem confused or
disorientated. This period is referred to as post traumatic amnesia
PTA can last for hours,
days or weeks depending upon the severity of the brain injury. When
a child or young person is in PTA, they cannot remember day-to-day
events such as who came to visit them in hospital. They can usually remember up to the time of injury but have problems remembering
what happened afterwards. Children and young people in PTA may often not know where they are or what time of day it is. Most
children and young people come out of PTA, even in the most severe
A child in PTA may not be
able to cope with too much noise or activity and will need to be in an
environment where they are not over-stimulated. For this reason,
they may not be able to have more than one or two visitors at a
time. If they are agitated, restless or are at risk of climbing
out of bed, they may need to have their mattress on the floor while
they are in hospital.
The positive aspect of PTA
is that the child or young person will not usually remember much of
what has happened to them during this time. Little pockets of
memory may surface but most of this time will not be
There are several ways to
measure the length of post traumatic amnesia. The rehabilitation team at the RCH use the Westmead PTA scale. The scale is used for
children seven years and over and consists
of seven orientation questions and five
When a child or young person
is out of PTA, the rehabilitation team will start other assessments
to see what specific changes have occurred after the brain injury.
The child can start other rehabilitation treatments that need more
memory capacity once they are out of PTA.
Developed by The Royal Children's
Hospital Paediatric Rehabilitation Service based on information from the Brain Injury Service at The Children's Hospital Westmead. We acknowledge the input of RCH
consumers and carers.
Reviewed September 2020.
Kids Health Info is supported by
The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit www.rchfoundation.org.au.
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