The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My LIfe and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get it Back

This book by Clark Elliot, an artificial intelligence professor in Chicago, has made its mark as one of my favourite books of all time. I’m sure those that know me are sick of hearing me talk about it but honestly if you love someone with a brain injury you NEED to read this book.

Some highlights:

  • Notice how the title includes the word CONCUSSION? That’s because every concussion is a traumatic brain injury. This is the first book I’ve read that really acknowledges this and I hope it starts becoming common knowledge. There’s no such thing as “just a concussion” as this book illustrates.
  • Elliott has kept stunning notes about his symptoms and has been able to record his experiences with such clarity and specificity that it really helps the “normals” understand the “concussives” (his terms not mine!)
  • His understanding of artificial intelligence provides him with insight and analogies that help bridge the gap between normals and concussives. He is able to dismantle seemingly easy mental tasks into all of its parts and compare to computer tasks which makes a lot of sense. More than once (more than ten times?) Jason and I were shocked to suddenly have words to explain symptoms he has struggled with.
  • After exploring his situation and symptoms he found help! The later chapters discuss his treatments from Dr. Deborah Zelinksy, an optometrist specializing in neuro-optometric rehabilitation and Dr. Donalee Markus for cognitive exercises. His explanations of the treatments and information provided by each of these doctors is incredibly interesting and gave us hope about Jason’s treatment options.

Without a doubt this is a must read for anyone supporting someone with a brain injury. It can be a bit heavy and complex, making it not the ideal book for anyone suffering from acute symptoms to read themselves. Our next post will be about our own experience with neuro-optometric rehabilitation.

Check out this link for a radio show (approx. 53 minutes) with Clark Elliott and Dr. O’Shanick from the Centre for Neurorehab Services.

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