‘It’s like a movie:’ Illinois girl’s memory resets every 2 hours after head injury

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MONMOUTH, Ill. -- Every morning, Riley Horner believes it's June 11 -- the day she suffered a traumatic head injury.

When Horner, from Kirkland, Illinios, wakes up in her bedroom, her first feeling is confusion.

"I have a calendar on my door, and I look, and it's September, and I'm like, 'Woah,'" Horner said.

"When she wakes up every morning, she thinks it's June 11," said Sarah Horner, Riley's mother.

June 11 is the day Riley Horner was accidentally kicked in the head by a student who was "crowd surfing" during a dance at the FFA State Convention. However, after dozens of seizures and countless hospital visits, Horner's symptoms remained a medical mystery.

Sarah Horner said her daughter's first doctor dismissed it as a concussion, and simply sent her home on crutches.

"They tell us there's nothing medically wrong," Sarah Horner said. "They can't see anything. You can't see a concussion, though, on an MRI or a CT scan. There's no brain bleed. There's no tumor."

Even the simpler things in life were wiped out of Riley Horner's memory. She carries every notebook, textbook, and pencil with her throughout the day because she can't even remember where her locker is.

In order to keep up with school, she needs to leave herself detailed notes. She takes photos of them with her phone, and sets an alarm for every two hours so she can brush up on what she has forgotten.

"My brother passed away last week and she probably has no idea, and we tell her every day, but she has no idea about it," Sarah Horner said.

"I know it's hard for them as much as it's hard for me, and people just don't understand," said Riley Horner. "It's like a movie. Like, I will have no recollection of (this interview) come suppertime."

The injury changed everything for the former athlete and scholar.

"(Doctors) told us that she might just be like this forever, and I am not okay with that," said Sarah Horner, through tears.

"I'm not making memories, and I'm just like, really scared," said Riley Horner.

The Horners said they're desperate for a diagnosis, before it is too late. Sarah Horner said research has shown that at six months with short term memory, it can cause irreversible damage.

"We need help," Sarah Horner pleaded. "We need somebody that knows a little bit more, because she deserves better. I mean, she wanted to be in the medical field, and now she can’t even hold a job if she wanted to."

Riley Horner, on the other hand, said she just wants anyone else experiencing similar symptoms to know they are not alone.

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