One fine day, last month Sushant Pillai (name changed) ran down to the middle of the road and refused to move from the middle of the road. On insisting to move, he would get aggressive.
The 23-year-old, Pillai loved biking. However, on a fateful evening in January this year, he met with a traumatic road accident. The accident led to multiple injuries and many behavioural disturbances too. Clubbed with these disturbances were his aggression and cognitive impairments.
Pillai then, was diagnosed with ‘anterograde amnesia’, just like Aamir Khan in the movie. Anterograde Amnesia is a rare condition characterised by a typical pattern of memory loss. It is generally caused by some traumatic brain injury or a mental shock. The disorder makes it impossible for a patient to create fresh memories after the incident that leads to the amnesia. This means they are unable to remember incidences from recent past. But, their long-term memories about anything that happened before the event are not affected in any way. However, Pillai also had issues of getting random seizures whose triggers have not been identified yet.
With treatments, he is getting better now. “Pillai has been treated now and so, is much better. However, the condition is generally caused after a major tragedy. Like in Pillai’s case, these people, if treated properly for the injury and carefully removed the cause of the illness,” said Dr Sagar Karia, a psychiatrist from Mulund.
He added, “We gave him the diagnosis of major cognitive impairment. Post traumatic symptoms can differ for person to person.”
Patients with anterograde amnesia often show normal memory for events prior to the tragedy. But they are severely impaired in terms of recollecting anything in the recent past. What surprised the doctors in Pillai’s case is his sudden wandering in places and going completely mute at times.
“The condition is surely not very common. It is also a neurological condition which can come out in different forms for different people. This does happen for people with a severe head injury,” said Dr Priyanka Mahajan, psychiatrist at Masina Hospital.