Rebuilding Life after Brain Injury: Dreamtalk, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Rebuilding Life after Brain Injury

Dreamtalk, 1st Edition

By Sheena McDonald, Allan Little, Gail Robinson


143 pages

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pub: 2019-04-18
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Rebuilding Life after Brain Injury: Dreamtalk tells the survival story of Sheena McDonald, who in 1999 was hit by a police van and suffered a very severe brain injury. Sheena’s story is told from her own, personal standpoint and also from two further unique and invaluable perspectives. Allan Little, a BBC journalist and now Sheena’s husband, describes both the physical and mental impact of the injury on himself and on Sheena. Gail Robinson, Sheena’s neuropsychological rehabilitation specialist, provides professional commentaries on Sheena’s condition, assessment and recovery process.

The word Dreamtalk, created by Allan to describe Sheena’s once "hallucinogenic state", sets the tone for this book. It humanises and contextualises the impact of brain injury, providing support and encouragement for patients, professionals and families. It presents exclusive insights into each stage of recovery, spanning coma, altered consciousness, post-traumatic amnesia and rehabilitation; all showing how she has defied conventional clinical expectations and made an exceptional recovery.

This book is valuable reading to those who have suffered a brain injury and also to professionals such as neurologists, neuropsychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists working in the field.


"It is near impossible for this book not to touch one’s heart. The writing is beautiful, powerful and passionate, and tells a story of tragedy, loss, forgiveness, love and hope. In Dreamtalk, Sheena McDonald, Allan Little and Gail Robinson provide very unique, but interweaved perspectives on traumatic brain injury. Understanding this uniqueness, and translating personal stories into plans to ensure the best possible outcomes, represents the art of neuro-rehabilitation. This book should be read by clinicians and academics with an interest in neuro-rehabilitation, and by anyone who wants to learn more about what makes us human." -Dr Rudi Coetzer, Consultant Neuropsychologist & Head of the North Wales Brain Injury Service, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board NHS Wales, UK

"One fateful day in February 1999 Sheena McDonald sustained a very severe brain injury changing the trajectory of her life. This book provides a poignant account of her recovery from this traumatic event. Combining Sheena’s account with that of her partner and her neurorehabilitation specialist enables the reader to gain a holistic insight into recovery from brain injury. This book is vital reading for any professional involved in neurorehabilitation, and the individuals and families touched by brain injury reminding the reader that every person affected by brain injury can make a remarkable recovery. Life may not be the same as before but there is hope." - Dr Anita Rose, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist, The Raphael Hospital, Kent, UK

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables

Series Foreword

Professor Barbara Wilson



  1. What happened?
  2. Was it that bad?
  3. Coma
  4. Trauma
  5. Who am I now?
  6. Back to work
  7. Life after near-death
  8. Plodding on
  9. Brave neurological world


About the Authors

Sheena McDonald is a British radio and TV journalist.

Allan Little is a British radio and TV journalist working for the BBC, and co-author of The Death of Yugoslavia (1995).

Gail Robinson is a Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist and Associate Professor at the Queensland Brain Institute & School of Psychology, the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, specialising in detailed single-case studies.

About the Series

After Brain Injury: Survivor Stories

After Brain Injury: Survivor Stories was launched in 2014 to meet the need for a series of books aimed at those who have suffered a brain injury, their families and carers, and professionals who are involved in neuropsychological rehabilitation. Brain disorders can be life-changing events with far-reaching consequences. However, in the current climate of cuts in funding and service provision for neuropsychological rehabilitation, there is a risk that people whose lives have been transformed by brain injury are left feeling isolated with little support.

Because so many of the books on brain injury are written for academics and clinicians they can for the most part be filled with technical and academic language which may be of little help to those directly affected. Instead, this series offers a much-needed personal insight into the experience, as each book is written, in the main, by a survivor or group of survivors, who are living with the very real consequences of brain injury. Each book focuses on a different condition, such as face blindness, amnesia and neglect, or diagnoses, such as encephalitis and locked-in syndrome, resulting from brain injury. Readers will learn about life before the brain injury, early days of diagnosis, the effects of the brain injury, the process of rehabilitation, and life as it is now lived.

Alongside a personal perspective, professional commentary is also provided by a specialist in neuropsychological rehabilitation. The historical context, neurological analyses, data on the condition, treatment, outcome and follow-up, will appeal to professionals working in rehabilitation including psychologists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, social workers and rehabilitation doctors. Books in this series will also be of interest to students of clinical psychology, neuropsychology and related courses who value a case study approach as a complement to the more academic books on brain injury.

With this series, we also hope to help expand awareness of brain injury and its consequences. The World Health Organisation has recently acknowledged the need to raise the profile of mental health issues (with the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013-20) and we believe there needs to be a similar focus on psychological, neurological and behavioural consequences of brain disorder, and a deeper understanding of the role of rehabilitation in making the lives of brain injured people more tolerable. Giving a voice to survivors of brain injury is a step in the right direction.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Neuropsychology

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