Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treatment for amnesia focuses on techniques and strategies to help make up for the memory problem.

Occupational therapy

A person with amnesia may work with an occupational therapist to learn new information to replace what was lost, or to use intact memories as a basis for taking in new information. Memory training may also include a variety of strategies for organizing information so that it's easier to remember and for improving understanding of extended conversation.

Technological assistance

Many people with amnesia find it helpful to use a PDA, such as a Palm Treo, BlackBerry or iPhone. With some training and practice, even people with severe amnesia can use these electronic organizers to help with day-to-day tasks. For example, they can program the PDA to remind them about important events or to take medications.

Low-tech memory aids include notebooks, wall calendars, pill minders and photographs of people and places.

Medications or supplements

No medications are currently available for treating most types of amnesia. Because Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome involves a lack of thiamin, treatment includes replacing this vitamin and providing proper nutrition. Although treatment, which also needs to include alcohol abstinence, can help prevent further damage, most people won't recover all of their lost memory.

Researchers are investigating several neurotransmitters involved in memory formation, which may one day lead to new treatments for memory disorders. But the complexity of the brain processes involved makes it unlikely that a single medication will be able to resolve memory problems.

Oct. 11, 2011

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