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The Traumatized Brain: A Family Guide, by Vani Rao and Sandeep Vaishnavi.

August 21, 2015

The Traumatized Brain: A Family Guide to Understanding Mood, Memory, and Behavior after Brain Injury, by Vani Rao and Sandeep Vaishnavi. John Hopkins Press, 2015.  1, 224 pages. Forthcoming.

3 stars

A straight-forward guide for families and others dealing with individuals who have suffered from brain injuries.

Brain injuries produce all too real physical changes that affect their victims in varied ways. In this book, medical professionals survey what those injuries can do and the changes they can cause. The initial chapter provides an overview of the structure and functions of the various parts of the brain. Here and elsewhere, they use technical language to help readers understand what they are being told by other doctors. Neat chapters document specific problems of mood, memory and behavior with attention to physical changes in the brain, treatments, and tips for individuals and their families and friends.

Overall the authors make clear that injury can cause specific damage and that brains are dynamic organs that can heal, especially when patients cooperate with the medical profession. In discussing particular problems, they claim that injuries can create problems or increase mental health issues that may exist without injury. For example, clinical depression may be caused by brain injury, an injury may make the tendency to depression worse, or depression may exist completely independent of any injury. Such a stance makes sense, but the book becomes a general collection of familiar mental health problems and what doctors can do to resolve them whether or not they are caused by injury.

This is definitely not a self-help book, but one that has an almost alarming belief in the miracles that doctors can do and how they should be carefully obeyed. While clearly written and organized, the book does little to draw non-medical readers into its content. Instead, the writing is somewhat stilted and often repetitive. Summaries of the points and qualifications of statements comprise much of the book.

Perhaps this book will be useful for some families, but I sincerely hope that a better guide is out there for people suffering from these problems.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Johns Hopkins Press for sending me an electronic copy of this book to review.

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