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Retrograde Amnesia

Imagine if all your memories vanished in an instant. On December 17, 2008, this became a harrowing reality for 46-year-old former NFL player and pilot Scot Bolzan. On that fateful day, Scott went to work as usual, but by that afternoon, he had lost every memory of his past.

“I fell on something slippery and hit my head,” Scott says. “[When] I got to the emergency room, I kept trying to give them information, but I could tell all the memories I had were leaving me."

“After three years, I still don’t know what I am or who I am,” he adds.

Joan, Scott’s wife of 27 years, says that Scott’s accident changed her family forever. The fall caused massive trauma to his head, and left him bleeding, unconscious and ultimately diagnosed with severe retrograde amnesia.

By Scott’s bedside at the hospital, Joan says, “He didn’t know what marriage was or what a wife was. I lost my husband and he was sitting right there.”

Scott describes returning home from the hospital as extremely terrifying and lonely, as his 19-year-old daughter, Taylor, Joan and the house he’d lived in for five years, were unrecognizable.

“The world was coming at me at 500 miles per hour,” Scott says. “I didn’t know what a tree was, what the smell of a car was or the smell of exhaust. When I got home, I didn’t know what my home was, let alone the house we lived in for five years.”

Not only did the accident erase Scott’s personal memories, but made basic concepts, such as speaking, reading, writing or comprehending what love and time were, completely foreign. He still experiences seizures and severe headaches, and says every day feels like a fog.

E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork explains how the human brain forms memories and how amnesia occurs.

The Doctors teamed up with Dr. Phil McGraw and the UCLA Medical Center to have Scott's brain further examined with the help of a state-of-the-art 3-D MRI.

Neurologist Dr. Neil Martin studies the 3D images of Scott’s brain from every possible angle, and finds that it looks primarily intact, but that the accident did diminish blood flow to most of it.

“His brain appears not to be excessively wrinkled or furrowed,” Dr. Martin says. “When the brain looks like a prune, that shows that it’s atrophied.”

“My suspicion is that the work-injury was not the profound [cause], but [rather] the cumulative affects of playing football in college and the NFL as a lineman, where he got impact on every play,” Dr. Martin says. “We’re starting to understand that as some of these football players in their 50s come down with personality changes and memory impairment, the cumulative affect of these activities may have long-term consequences.”

What can be done to restore Scott’s memory? “There’s not one specific therapy to snap things back to normal,” Dr. Martin says. “Right now, the best therapy he can get is intense cognitive rehabilitation from someone who cares and loves him the most, like his wife, Joan.”

Scott and Joan narrate their struggle with amnesia in their new book, My Life, Deleted: A Memoir. Read an excerpt here.

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Sisters Janine, 23, and Jessica, 19, both suffer from vitiligo, a condition in which your body loses melanin, the pigment that determines the color of your skin, hair and eyes.  It occurs when your immune system starts destroying melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, causing irregularly shaped white patches on different areas of the skin. Vitiligo affects people all races, but is more noticeable in those with darker skin tones.

“When I was 7 years old, I’d come home [from school] on a daily basis crying because I was the butt of jokes in class. I would beg my mom to home school me,” Janine says.

While there is currently no cure for vitiligo, those with the condition attempt to cover the blemishes with makeup and various skin treatments such as Protopic ointment, steroids or UVB light therapy.

“I’ve tried everything when it comes to makeup and treatments to make my pigmentation come back,” Janine adds. “If a cure became available, I’d definitely want to try it out.”

Microskin, a new, cutting-edge technology, may be a solution for those with the disease. It is performed with a scanner that is applied to the face to determine the person’s exact skin pigmentation. Then, a formula is created and adhered to the patient like a second skin, creating a smooth, even appearance that lasts up to five days. Microskin does not harbor bacteria or clog pores, and does not need to be washed off.

The Doctors surprise Janine and Jessica with the MicroSkin treatment. See how the sisters look and feel with their second skins!

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OAD 10/10/11