By On April 4th, 2008

Head Cases: More than just a book

Last night I went to the book launch event for Michael Paul Mason's book, Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath. The event was to benefit the Oklahoma Brain Injury Association and was supported by donations from the proceeds of the book sales at the event which went to the Oklahoma Brain Injury Association. Other sponsors included Brookhaven Hospital's Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute. The evening was held at Tulsa's Harwelden Mansion and it served as a great backdrop for the evening. The visitors to the event came from as far away as Spain and from coast-to-coast locations. The entire evening was a time to remember highlighted by Mike's reading from the book a brief story about Marilyn Price-Spivack, the founder of the national Brain Injury Association and the motivating force in the public recognition of brain injury and the lifelong needs of survivors.

For the hundred or so of us in the room, we each connected to each other through Mike Mason. In the room was Mike's family represented by multiple generations, his friends and colleagues from many aspects of his life, prior employers, his agent and editor, brain injury professionals and many others. As we talked about our connections with Mike I was reminded how each of us is like the people whose stories are told in book. We are only marginally separated from brain injury at best.

Mike's book is based on telling the human side of the story not the scientific side. In Head Cases he introduces us to twelve people who are so much more like us than unlike us. I appreciate Mike's way of telling of their stories and giving  voice to an injury which has been poorly understood. In the course of the evening I spoke with a gentleman who had written a review of the book for the Tulsa World. In his review he highlighted the connection to the young people returning brain injured from the Iraq War, in most cases hidden from the public view as if the war and its aftermath just didn't exist.We talked about the coffins returning to home towns and we talked about the kids struggling in military hospitals to return home as well as those who have returned home with brain injuries from IED's, yet to be recognized.Those stories are in Mike's book, too, as well as his personal experience in the high tech environment of Balad Hospital in Iraq where miracles are being made daily; each miracle launching the survivor into a lifetime journey.

I have been involved in brain injury rehabilitation for over thirty years. It is a profession which is  only slightly downstream from the neurosurgeons and trauma specialists who save lives. We saw that the physician soldiers who return from the Viet Nam war changed brain injury in the 60's and 70's creating opportunities to survive. Now, the doctors returning from Iraq will bring new skills to trauma care and will save more civilian lives and bring about new generations of brain injury survivors with a new host of lifelong problems. Each new person living with a brain injury will provide new challenges.

Mike Mason worked to get this Neuro Notes blog off the ground during his time at Brookhaven as a Brain Injury Case Manager. I think that he wanted to create a place where we could communicate about brain injury from the personal perspective and share information.Through his book, Head Cases, he shares the stories that connect us in other ways.

Thanks, Mike!

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