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Lynch Said Not to Have Amnesia, Progress Continues

By Gene Harper
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2003 – Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch does not have amnesia, according to a May 8 release from Walter Reed Army Medical Center here. Instead, say her attending doctors, she has no recollection of any events that may have occurred from the start of the ambush until when she awoke in an Iraqi hospital.

Based on military debriefings and mental health evaluations she has undergone, they believe the probability of her remembering any events during that time period is very low, stated the release.

"Amnesia is the loss of the ability to recall an event that's been previously laid down in someone's mind," said Walter Reed Army Dr. (Lt. Col.) Greg Argyros during a May 9 CNN interview. "If you meet an individual or experience an event, a memory is laid down in the brain and you're able to recall that, and that is your memory. When you lose that memory, that is amnesia.

"There are events that occur when memory is not laid down," he continued. He gave an example of patients under general anesthesia having "no recollection whatsoever" of what took place during their operation. He said that's "because no memory is laid down."

Argyros said that Lynch had been "evaluated by a number of mental health professionals and her medical team," people who "have particular expertise in the evaluation of individuals who have suffered war injuries."

He stated that "it is their opinion that it is very unlikely that in the future she will recall any of those events."

"She is consistent in every question that she has answered in response to that time period," Argyros emphasized. He said based on findings from military and medical debriefings and other sessions, "she has absolutely no recollection whatsoever" of the events surrounding her capture and POW status.

The release stated Lynch continues to make steady progress since arriving at Walter Reed April 12. She's healing at a "satisfactory rate" with "no unexpected complications." Currently, no more surgeries or procedures are planned.

The release also reported that Lynch's physical and occupational therapy sessions have increased to twice daily.

"Occupational therapy helps her with activities of daily living, such as combing her hair, brushing her teeth and other personal hygiene matters," stated the release. "The physical therapy is designed to help her increase her strength and flexibility."

Lynch spends her free time reading and writing e-mail, enjoying letters and cards from well-wishers, and listening to music and watch television, according to the hospital statement.

It also said "recent inaccurate reports of amnesia have resulted in her explaining to friends and family that she is okay and still the same Jessi."

"I don't want people to think I can't remember things," Lynch reportedly said.

Officials have set no discharge date for Lynch. Hospital officials want to "ensure she recovers properly," the release stated. "Her doctors say that her terrific attitude toward recovery is a valuable asset."

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