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Changes After a Brain Injury

Trouble Recognizing Familiar Things

Agnosia is when you can’t recognize familiar things using your senses (seeing, hearing, or touching).

A person with agnosia may have trouble recognizing:

  • words, even though he may be able to recognize the letters within the word
  • faces he knows, such as those of family or friends
  • sounds he knows (for example, being able to tell the difference between the sound of a car engine running and a vacuum cleaner)
  • objects by touch (for example, trouble telling the difference between a toothbrush and a comb)

Tips to help a person with agnosia

  • Bring pictures of family and friends to the hospital and practice naming the people in the pictures. Help him look for clues to help him tell people apart.
  • Encourage him to use whatever sense is working. For example, if he can’t recognize things by sight, have him feel things to identify them. If he can’t identify things by touch, have him use his vision as much as possible. Use labels in the form of written words or pictures to best describe.

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