Wounded Brains: True Survival Stories (Powerful Medicine)

Wounded Brains: True Survival Stories (Powerful Medicine)

By: Sandra Markle
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2010
ISBN: 978-0822587040
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: August 27, 2010

Amazingly with the advances in medicine, many people who sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are now able to survive injuries that would have resulted in death a few short years ago. In this powerfully touching book we meet two people who survived against all odds and returned to live “full productive lives.” We get to take a close look into the lives of two remarkably resilient people, Chelsea Davis, who was injured in a diving accident, and Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Maxwell who was injured when a mortar exploded near his tent in Iraq. We’re also able to take a glimpse at other people who survived TBIs such as Candace Gantt, Travis Bogumill, and Melody Gardot. You’ll even be able to see an X-ray of Travis’s skull with a 3.25-inch nail embedded in it!

Chelsea Davis was injured when her head hit a springboard at the World Aquatics Championships. This unfortunate injury “jolted her brain inside her skull like shaken Jell-o.” TBIs can either be classified as open or closed injuries. In Chelsea’s case, hers was a closed TBI. Although she would never be a competitive diver again, she would recover in a three-year time frame, a time in which astonishing progress was made. You will read about what happens when the brain swells, you’ll learn about the function of the brain stem, the three layers of the brain (the mininges), exactly what transpired during her recovery and you’ll learn many other “medical” facts about what happens to someone with a TBI. We are able to follow Chelsea closely after her injury to see exactly what transpires after someone receives a TBI and what happens on their road to recovery.

We similarly follow Colonel Maxwell as he journeys toward his recovery, which unfortunately for him will be a lifelong venture. Approximately 25 percent of all injuries sustained in Iraq result in a TBI, which can be mild, moderate, or severe. In Tim’s case, his was severe. We follow him through his ups and downs and, as his wife Shannon states, “It’s important to understand that our soldiers who come back wounded are still a valuable part of the community. These injuries aren’t stops to life. They’re just challenges.” These challenges are not limited to those who are injured, but also to those researchers who want to minimize the extent of serious injuries. We are also able to get a look at some therapies that hold great promise in the world of medicine such as laser array treatment, giving patients high doses of lactate, or progesterone.

This book gives us a rare and fascinating glimpse into the behind the scenes survival stories of people with traumatic brain injuries. The young reader will not be plunged into a treatise of gore, gloom, and doom, but will learn a great deal about the brain and the medical advances that enable severely injured people to survive TBIs. The injured people depicted in the text are treated with great compassion and the young reader will marvel at their resilience. Young people are encouraged to think and consider the remarkable advances that can be made in the medical field as they read. There are numerous full color photographs, X-rays to examine, microphotographs of nerve cells, along with informative captions. In the back matter there are safety suggestions, a glossary, an index, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: The young adult reader will not only be amazed at the true survival stories related in this book, they will also learn a lot about the function of the brain and new advances in critical medical care!

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