Suffolk: Teenager loses memory after bump on the head
Like most 16-year-olds, Taylor Smart is cramming in some last-minute revision ahead of her GCSE exams.
But unlike her fellow students, the teenager is also having to rediscover basic skills and rebuild relationships with family and friends after losing her entire memory four months ago.
The teenager, who lives in Market Weston, near Diss, spoke of her ordeal after a bang on the head caused her to forget everything and everyone she knew.
Miss Smart hit her head on her bath at home after suffering a blackout while she was getting ready for school. When she woke up in an ambulance, she could not remember her age or where she lived and did not even recognise her mother.
The schoolgirl said she was beginning to “relearn” life as well as study for five GCSEs after losing 16 years of memories as a result of the fall on January 13.
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She is also trying to get to grips with basic tasks such as using her mobile phone, brushing her teeth and reading and writing after the accident.
Miss Smart, who suffers from Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which causes blackouts if her blood pressure gets too high, said she still had no memory of her life before January 13 and doctors do not know when or if her memory will return.
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The student is now preparing to sit five GCSEs at King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, despite not being able to remember most of her education.
She added that it was “scary and confusing” when she woke up in the back of an ambulance.
“I only knew who my mum was because she told me who she was. After that I wouldn’t leave her side. I knew my name, but I didn’t know how old I was, where I lived or my date of birth. I didn’t even know what a school was and I couldn’t write,” she said.
Miss Smart was rushed to West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, where doctors discovered no fractures or injuries to her skull.
She has since returned to school and is projected to get C and D grades. She also hopes to study a BTEC Level 3 in media production at West Suffolk College.
“The most difficult thing is my friends talking to me because they know me but I have no idea who they are. They know more about me than I do.
“I’ve had to trust my friends that what they say is true. People say I’m faking it and after attention, but I’d rather not have any attention and have my memory back. I just want my memory back, but I may have to just live with it now,” she said.
Miss Smart is being supported by her parents, Jane and Steve, and sisters Rebecca, 18, and Ashley, 20.
Mrs Smart said her daughter initially needed round-the-clock care because she could not do basic tasks.
“I have to admit since she hit her head there hasn’t been a day when I haven’t cried.
“She cannot remember her childhood. Everyone has a first memory of childhood but she hasn’t. Taylor’s first memory is waking up in the ambulance aged 16. She had scans and x-rays and they said there was no physical damage to the skull or bleeding. It was purely the trauma and severe concussion that caused it,” she said.
A full assessment of her condition is not available on the NHS and the family has applied for funding from Suffolk NHS.
She has also contacted Headway, a national charity which works to improve people’s lives after brain injuries.