Surviving Brain Damage After Assault: From Vegetative State to Meaningful Life, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Surviving Brain Damage After Assault

From Vegetative State to Meaningful Life, 1st Edition

By Barbara A. Wilson, Samira Kashinath Dhamapurkar, Anita Rose


154 pages | 11 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2016-02-01
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At the age of twenty eight Gary was assaulted by a gang with baseball bats and a hammer, resulting in several skull fractures and severe brain damage. For nineteen months he had little awareness of his surroundings before he started to show some recovery. This inspirational book documents his exceptional journey.

The book presents a series of interviews with Gary, his mother Wendie, who never gave up, the medical team who initially treated him, and the therapists who worked with him over a period of three years. Through their testimony we learn about the devastating effects which can follow a serious assault to the head, and the long process of recovery over several years. With specialist rehabilitation and continuing family support Gary has exceeded expectations and, apart from some minor physical problems, he is now a normal young man.

Surviving Brain Damage after Assault shows that, contrary to popular belief, considerable gains can be made by people who have experienced a long period of reduced consciousness. The book will be of great value to all professionals working in rehabilitation - psychologists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, social workers and rehabilitation doctors, and to people who have sustained a brain injury and their families.


Wilson, Dhamapurkar and Rose present a fascinating, thought provoking yet scientific account of late recovery from the Minimally Conscious State. This challenges the concept of ‘cut-off’ after which recovery is unlikely. Family and client perspectives enhance the account. This informative book will be of interest to all working with people with long term Disorders of Consciousness. - Agnes Shiel, Professor of Occupational Therapy, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland

This is a most valuable and detailed account of delayed, gradual and continuing recovery after a very severe traumatic brain injury. The subject is a young man who has received excellent medical and surgical care and exemplary rehabilitation input from his family and the rehabilitation team involved over several years. The authors' thoughtful and detailed discussion of the reasons for such unexpected and prolonged improvement raise many questions.

This case is a further example of the fact that people's brains are potentially able to acquire new patterns of activity and responsiveness when they undergo intensive training and acquire new skills - not only in those who are healthy, but also (to a proportional degree) after severe damage to the brain has occurred. The time course of these changes in such patients after brain injury mirrors that of active skill acquisition in normal adults, rather than passive 'spontaneous' recovery from injury. It is crucially important that this principle is recognised, both in the planning of rehabilitation research and in health service provision, if the mechanisms involved are to be fully understood and optimal recovery from brain injury is to be achieved for all.Lindsay McLellan, Formerly Europe Professor of Rehabilitation, University of Southampton, UK and Medical Adviser to the Brain Injury Group

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to Brain Damage Part One 2. Introduction to Brain Damage Part Two 3. Imaging procedures in understanding brain injury 4. The assault: as described by Wendie, Gary’s mum, and other members of the family 5. Early days in Hospital 6. Admission to the Raphael Medical Centre 7. Assessments While Gary was Vegetative and Minimally Conscious 8. Cranioplasty 9. Waking up 10. Rehabilitation Through Music Therapy (With a contribution from Melanie Cornell, Music Therapist) 11. Ongoing Rehabilitation 12. Home Evaluation 13. Gary today 14. Why did Gary do so well?

About the Authors

Barbara A Wilson is a clinical neuropsychologist who has worked in brain injury rehabilitation for nearly 40 years. She has won many awards for her work including an OBE for services to rehabilitation and three lifetime achievement awards, one from the British Psychological Society, one from the International Neuropsychological Society and one from the National Academy of Neuropsychology. The Division of Neuropsychology has named a prize after her, "The Barbara A Wilson prize for distinguished contributions to neuropsychology." She is honorary professor at the University of Hong Kong, the University of Sydney and the University of East Anglia.

Samira Kashinath Dhamapurkar is an Occupational Therapist. Her special interest is in working with people in low awareness states. She worked in India at the Masina Hospital on a psychiatric/drug addiction unit and in a special school for autistic children before coming to the United Kingdom. For the past four years she has worked in the area of neurorehabilitation In addition to her clinical work, she is also involved in research involving people with disorders of consciousness.

Anita Rose is a Consultant Neuropsychologist. She works at the Raphael Medical Centre in Tonbridge and also works as an independent Consultant Neuropsychologist across the globe. She provides significant input in the field of multiple sclerosis via her clinical work, research publications, booklets and consultancy to the MS groups in the UK. She is Vice Chair for the European Neuropsychology Special Interest Group in MS, and acts as a clinical advisor to the MS Society in South Africa.

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.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Neuropsychology