Confronting Traumatic Brain Injury: Devastation, Hope, and Healing

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9780300070262: Confronting Traumatic Brain Injury: Devastation, Hope, and Healing
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Warning of a virtual epidemic in traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the United States, the author explains in layman's terms the causes of TBI, how it affects the brain, and ways of treating it. He offers a number of recommendations towards alleviating the problem, including increasing investment in basic and clinical research, redirecting research efforts towards a greater emphasis on rehabilitation, meshing broad federal guidelines with state latitude in instituting programs for providing and regulating brain injury-related services, and raising the driving age. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

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Author William J. Winslade suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a 2-year-old, when he fell from his second-story porch and landed straight on his head. He's one of the lucky ones who's recovered fully, both physically and emotionally; his only souvenirs of the fall are a three-inch scar and a dent in his skull. He warns that of the 2 million Americans who suffer from TBI each year (most of them from car and motorcycle accidents), up to 100,000 of them will die prematurely. More than 90,000 of them will face up to a decade of extensive rehabilitation, at a cost of up to $4 million each. Even a TBI as seemingly minor as a concussion can have devastating long-term physical consequences, causing seizures, memory loss, learning disabilities, and more. However sorry these problems may be, he writes, "the truly debilitating deficits" are the less-obvious emotional effects, "such as social isolation, [which] take their own insidious toll."

Winslade is on mission to spur massive attention to TBI, both from the public and the government, to increase awareness to prevent these injuries, and to improve resources for when injuries do occur. And the profiles of TBI victims in this sobering book should move anyone with a soul to action. Without slipping into melodrama, he presents harrowing tales of the dramatic personality changes that can result from TBI. Winslade ends on a practical, moving note, advocating several ways that TBI can be prevented from raising the driving age to banning pro boxing. "Consider the misery and money that we would save by cutting in half the number of Americans killed or severely disabled by brain trauma every year," he writes. Until simple preventive measures are taken and until the "long national slumber" of ignorance ends, he warns, TBI will continue to be the leading cause of disability and death in children and young adults.

From Booklist:

"The primary cause of accidents is our fatalistic acceptance of them," says Winslade, who also points out that traumatic brain injury--TBI--kills 60 percent more people than AIDS does and afflicts a group of victims of an even younger average age, for it is a common result of driving accidents that seat belts, air bags, helmets for motorcyclists, and daytime running lights ought to reduce considerably. Hearing of a few striking recoveries from TBI, most people don't realize that the usual TBI rehabilitation program is lengthy and often restores only minimal functioning. Strongly interested in the law, bioethicist Winslade emphasizes that the U.S. TBI death rate ranks badly on the world list, that the U.S. generally doesn't have the necessary transportation ready for TBI emergencies, that there is nothing obliging state and federal legislatures to provide sufficient funds for trauma centers and research, and that the rampant waste, fraud, and abuse in some (especially for-profit) rehabilitation centers are overlooked. A book that may provoke considerable discussion. William Beatty

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Professor William J. Winslade
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