I’ve written a piece for SpotOn NYC on the contrast between the effects of brain injury depicted in Oliver Sacks-type books and the typical effects in patients on neurology wards.
These books are not inaccurate but neither do they represent the common outcomes of brain injury.
Sometimes the reality is quite different from what people expect.
It is not that the patients described by Oliver Sacks, or any of the other chroniclers of fragile neurology, are in any way inaccurate. I have met patients who show us something about our brain function in equally stark clarity. But such cases are interesting, scientifically, precisely because they are atypical. In contrast, most brain injury is blurry and scientifically mundane. Some difficulties are concealed by other more pressing problems. It’s hard to mistake your wife for a hat when you’re paralysed. It’s hard to have an awakening when you’re not sure where you are. Their importance lies not in a contribution to an understanding of the brain but to the people concerned. An adjusted life. A refactored family. Tears amid the challenges. Happiness rebuilt.
The piece part of a series of posts written by neuroscience bloggers looking at the difficulties with communicating the subtlety and complexity of brain disorders.
There are some excellent pieces there so do have a browse.