Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) A Book Review 7/27/14 

 July 27, 2014

By  Jana Hassett

“Mindstorms: The Complete Guide for Families Living With Traumatic Brain Injury” – by John W. Cassidy, M.D. – Copyright 2009 De Capo Press.

If you have anyone in your life with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), I highly recommend this book. I only wish it had been published in the mid 70’s, for the difficult part of TBI is for those that are the caregivers and loved ones of someone who suffers with these deficits.

As Dr Cassidy states, “if someone you love has suffered a brain injury, that person you knew so well may suddenly seem like a stranger – someone who doesn’t act the same way, doesn’t think the same way, and who many even become violent.” “. . . the family’s sense of stability may be threatened again and again.” Episodes of maladaptive behaviors are the most difficult for family members to handle.

Traumatic Brain Injuries are always caused by a number of pathologic changes to the brain, depending on the type or types of injuries involved in the initial trauma. And it doesn’t need to be the result of a head injury. A local friend in his late 60’s tripped over a parking bumper in a lot and ended up with TBI. It took him a year to overcome short-term memory deficits, and 3 years after is still dealing with impaired capactiy for self-reflection about his own behavior.

TBI, according to Dr Cassidy, affects over 6 million Americans (2% of the population). And at long last the world is beginning to recognize TBI for what it is , damage to the brain that changes us forever. “If we hurt our brain it’ going to affect our behavior.”

The book is full of information about the disorder, but discusses ways for family and friends to get beyond guilt and how to help their loved one move on, even if it’s just tiny steps and simple ways to cope. One woman cannot get beyond short-term memory deficits so she has a personal journal and check lists to make sure she gets things done. Overstimulation from large crowds and noisy groups is a common deficit for TBI patients. Many families have changed their entertainment to at home, small groups, and less noise.

Many TBI events are due to “…oxygen deprivation [and] can be produced by . . . severe blood loss associated with broken bones in the legs.” That loss of oxygen can produce any number of problems from strokes to severe boughts of anger. Their sense of reality is altered and recognition of their deficits can be severe. “. . . patients who regained only very minimal insight were more apt to minimize their deficits. . . they were not grounded in reality, and they thought they were able to do more than their therapists and caregivers knew they could.”

Feeling normal is vital for those that care for a TBI patient, and Dr Cassidy’s vast experience can help. “If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.”

Footnote – all quotes are from Dr Cassidy and his book.

Posted a short version on goodreads – Mindstorms: The Complete Guide for Families Living with Traumatic Brain InjuryMindstorms: The Complete Guide for Families Living with Traumatic Brain Injury by John W. Cassidy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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