Family of Illinois teen who loses her memory every two hours gets long-awaited diagnosis

KIRKWOOD, Illinois -- The high school student who has been plagued with a brain injury that causes her to lose her memory throughout the day now has a cure.

Riley Horner was injured after being accidentally kicked in the head back on June 11.  She wakes up every morning thinking it's that same day; her memory essentially resets every two hours, according to her mom.

After speaking with WQAD News 8 about her experience, Riley's story garnered national attention, and viewers called a post-traumatic treatment center - Cognitive FX. Doctors in Utah then reached out to the Horner's offering their treatment.

On Monday, September 23, Riley took her first plane ride to meet with those doctors and hoped to get the answer to the million dollar question: why does Riley's memory reset every two hours?

"I'll be fine one minute, and then all of a sudden I'll be looking around completely lost," Riley explained. "Or my hand will start shaking. Or I glitch! I just am fine and all of a sudden I go downhill really fast."

That glitch -- now medically diagnosed after more than three hours of testing. Riley's mother, Sarah, said her daughter was asked several questions and tasked with answering them in her head. While she recalled them in her memory, Sarah said doctors were simultaneously doing brain scans to measure the blood flow through different parts of the brain.

"(Doctors) said (her scans) should've been lit up and she had nothing. There was no light at all in there," Sarah said.

Doctors concluded that the blood flow to her hippocampus -- the part of her brain that makes memories -- was significantly reduced. Meanwhile, other portions of her body were receiving too much blood flow.

"Now that we think about it, that's exactly right," Sarah said. "When she has tremors, or these seizures; when she all of a sudden can't walk on her left leg; when she can't speak; it's because that blood is not flowing properly to right parts of her brain and it shorts out."

But there's hope.  Riley's doctors say there is a treatment they're planning to try, which could help restore the teen's memory.

"Thanks to WQAD, she’s went viral, everyone knows about her, everyone knows about the situation," Sarah said.

"I mean I just really thought this was going to be my life forever," Riley said. "It makes me feel better that it's going to be over and we'll get back to our lives and it’ll be just something to laugh about."

The Horners will return to Utah in November to undergo weeks of rehabilitation therapy. Their appointment falls on the five-month mark of her accident.

"I mean I’ve already forgotten three months, what’s another month?" Riley jokingly said. "It’s just October!"

Click here for complete coverage of Riley's memory journey. 

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