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Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath

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3.92  ·  Rating details ·  946 ratings  ·  121 reviews
Head Cases takes us into the dark side of the brain in an astonishing sequence of stories, at once true and strange, from the world of brain damage. Michael Paul Mason is one of an elite group of experts who coordinate care in the complicated aftermath of tragic injuries that can last a lifetime. On the road with Mason, we encounter survivors of brain injuries as they stru ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  946 ratings  ·  121 reviews


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P-eggy
Aug 18, 2018 marked it as own-want-to-read
I'm sure I've read this. But it isn't in my bookshelves. Maybe it disappeared or maybe I never added it. Maybe I'm a head case? I once had concussion, but that was when I was a kid. I did do rather a lot of psychedelics in my sex n drugs n rock n roll phase. Maybe that's what did it.
India Clamp
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: surgery
After reading Mason’s “Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath” which distinctly offers a variant perspective on “neurology” from that of a brain injury case manager---as I had become accustomed to the view from a neurosurgeon. Snowboarder case was gripping as is our commendable Air Force surgeons treating 10,000 traumatic head injuries during the war on terror. Mason quips “What are we other than our brains?”

"When a seizure involves only muscular stiffening, it's called a tonic s
...more
Joan
Aug 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: members of my family; families of the brain-injured
Recommended to Joan by: NYT Book Review
Shelves: science
Each chapter in Head Cases is a vignette of a particular traumatic brain injury: the person before, the accident, the effects on the brain, the losses/changes, and the person's struggle to overcome/deal with those changes. The gist of the stories is that these are real people with real families and real struggles.

Several of the stories are not for the weak of heart and some are not for the weak of stomach. The hells in which some of the patients live made me doubt whether I could make it into Ch
...more
Joanie
Sep 28, 2008 rated it liked it
So after a year and a half we finally finished this book. I'm so glad not to have it listed under my "currenly reading" section anymore.

We read a this a few chapters at a time as part of the journal club we have at my work for our certified brain injury specialist program. This book is a collection of case histories of various people who have suffered brain injuries written by a brain injury case manager (whatever the hell that is!)

The book presents some interesting though harrowing stories of
...more
Nicole
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
This could have been a much better book. The author can write well and he had a plethora of cases to pick from. However, Mason couldn't decide if the book should be a compilation of case studies (which is what the title implies) or a memoir of his job as brain injury case manager. So he tries to do both and the results are very incomplete. In case after case, Mason gives a lot of details about a brain injury victim but then, suddenly, ends that chapter. The reader does not find out how the perso ...more
Cathy
Apr 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I couldn't put the book down as this is my area of vocation for over ten years and I'm always interested in learning more. A gifted writer that describes each case accurately and respectfully. Shocking stats such as 1 in 5 of us have a tumor presently residing in our brains that may sit dormant. While often rewarding to assist a client in rehab with an ABI, it is also challenging, as Michael explains, a sudden unpredictable mood swing or outburst can occur with the comorbid psychiatric issues an ...more
Miri
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fascinating and devastating. I learned a lot about TBI and enjoyed the detailed, almost fiction-like writing style.

I ended up giving it four stars mainly for one issue that really hit me hard, which is that in his chapter on suicide, the author repeatedly uses the word "suicide" to refer to "a person who attempted suicide." As in, "The suicide was found in his room..." It's extremely dehumanizing and really contrasted with the rest of the book, which is written in a way that respects and emphasi
...more
Alexis
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
12 cases of people who have had brain injuries. I thought this book was really well done and I learned a lot about what can happen, and how your head can change afterward.

I loved the compassionate nature that the author showed toward his subjects. I think I will write a column/review of this one.

Thanks Michael. I'm not sure what my favourite chapter was, but I loved the way you talked about John.
Angie
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
What makes you get up in the morning? Sustain your job? Helps you breathe? Makes sure your heart beats every day? It's frightening to think how much the brain is responsible for (essentially everything in your body), yet its only protection is a few thin layers of membrane, fluid, and bone. A simple tap on the head in the wrong place can create damage that will change your life forever.

Mason, a brain injury case manager, tells the stories of several of his clients: how it happened, how they and
...more
Joy Rancatore
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Michael Paul Mason shows the inner workings of and political red tape involved with brain injury care and rehabilitation in our country while introducing his readers to real-life people and their families whose lives have forever been derailed. This book is powerful and informative and infuriating all at once as the reader discovers how laws, insurance providers and institutional guidelines determine just how much a person will be allowed to recover from a brain injury. We live in a time of amaz ...more
Carol
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't usually read non-fiction, but I enjoyed reading the different case studies presented in the book.
Chanell Easton
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I throughly enjoyed this book! Each chapter is someone’s emotional, and often heartbreaking story. I had no idea the extent of struggles those with brain injuries endure; very eye opening. Mason does an incredible job of portraying the reality of brain injury case management, I commend him for the work he does.
Ashley
This was a quick read; Mason's tone was different than that of most non-fiction authors. I like to read the first few pages of a book before checking out the author's picture on the inside back flap; it's interesting to see how they compare to a quick mental picture that's created in the first few pages. With this book, I could tell right away the author was younger; not from any context clues, but just from his style. Which is intereting, since he comes across as almost weary; his work as a bra ...more
Maya
Apr 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The first thing I'll say about this book is that I expected it to be a good deal more clinical than it is, which for a lay reader like myself turned out to be an excellent thing.

Mason brings his cases to life for the reader with compassion and skill. I noticed another review that criticized the way in which the stories seemed to end abruptly, which I just don't understand. Human stories, epic, tragic, triumphant and ordinary, don't typically wrap up neatly. The fact that they don't conclude neat
...more
Paul
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a sympathetic set of narratives about people with traumatic brain injury (TBI). It's a little bit like Oliver Sacks's books, except he dealt with brain anomalies often diagnosed by peculiar mental states, beliefs, or behaviors. This book deals with the most unfortunate kinds of victims of any brain disorder, TBI, and how they are often overlooked by hospitals and clinics and abandoned by their insurers. The author is a victim of TBI himself, and his job is to assess cases of head trauma ...more
Anna Engel
Mar 18, 2015 rated it liked it
[3.5 stars]

"Head Cases" was much less clinical than I expected. The book is a collection of anecdotes/case histories that help to humanize traumatic brain injuries for the reader. They're very well-written and interesting, but I've found it's better not to dwell on the possibility of someone I love suffering such an injury because there is so much due to chance -- a brain in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It's not an uplifting or optimistic book. The author points out many of the hardships th
...more
Ronnie
May 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book gives back to a charity. It is difficult to understand a person with a brain injury and what life is like afterwards, and it is hard to put it into the words as easily as it is for this author. As a TBI patient, I was grateful for this book, and could relate. I highly recommed it for anyone who knows someone with a TBI.
Books Ring Mah Bell
Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it

A case manager for the brain injured shares his tough cases in this book. The main thing: we do not do enough for the survivors of brain injury. It's expensive, demanding, and challenging. Meanwhile, these people are living in a health care purgatory of sorts. Terribly sad.
Kaitlin Mooney
Apr 13, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a very interesting book. Michael Mason is a Brain Injury Case Manager, which I learned is basically a patient advocate for people seeking rehabilitate care after their injuries, but actually its more like a patient advocate for people who have slipped through the cracks of our current health care system because as a nation we are ill-equipped to handle brain injury.

It is really sad to learn that people suffering from brain injury are volleyed from psych wards to nursing homes, never re
...more
Dayna
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I don't know what to say after finishing this book.

A collection of accounts of the people he met, Michael tells us about his job as a TBI (traumatic brain injury) case manager. It's so heartbreaking, hearing how the injury affects each of their lives and families. What is even more horrifying is the almost negligent funding of healthcare catered to TBI. It's almost nothing. It's pathetic. It's so tragic. But from it arises people, laymen, who were forced to arise from their trgedies and establi
...more
Ella
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
The writing was okay and the information interesting. But, the patients themselves are rarely heard and mostly talked about. Some are in such bad shape that they can’t speak for themselves but many can, but the writer included very little from their perspective. The perspective of the writer and the caregivers was given much more space. This has the, perhaps unintentional, effect of leaving out the humanity of the patients. Because of this, I was very disappointed with this book.

Sometimes the wr
...more
Sarah
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Their brains have undergone irrevocable change, but their humanity abides." This book calls attention to not only the difficulties of sustaining a traumatic brain injury, but the difficulties in sustaining a life afterwards. There are so few resources for the MILLIONS of people who suffer from the effects of a TBI. These people are shuffled from hospital beds to rehabs to psychiatric wards to homeless shelters. Never given the proper foundation or resources they need. As someone who is looking ...more
Anna
This is a fantastically written book. The stories weave together to creative a narrative about the desperate state of current health care for those with brain injuries. The writer offers a good mix of the personal and the clinical. This book holistically examines the effects of brain injuries on individuals, families, institutions, and societies. I recommend this book for anyone in the health care field or any helping profession.
Tanya
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely incredible book! Reading it makes me want to change my direction in healthcare and specialize in neurology or traumatic brain injuries. With the right facilities and staff education, so many outcomes could be so vastly different. I love what I do, but when a book can inspire you to think and feel as this one did in me, that’s a work that is beautifully done!
Alexz
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think this book gives a really good insight into how plastic and destuctable our brains truly are and how amazing they can be even after suffering so much trauma. Some stories he accounts are insane to me and I cannot inagine struggling the way these people do day to day.
Teresa Roy -Sheppard
Good read. Several different very interesting stories of traumatic brain injury.Fascinati

Fascinating read . Multi faceted views of brain injury physical and emotional repercussions . It reflects how traumatic brain injury effects different people differently
Cherry
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Terribly interesting
Stephanie
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Brain injury is a quiet crisis..." this book made me thankful my injury and symptoms are not worse than they are, and realize I'm not alone, nor is my family, in the suffering.
Reading Cat
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, science
I can see why it was only one third its original price at the Strand. It's...meh.

Others have argued that this book seems unfocused, torn between trying to indict the health care system, tell stories of patients, and tell his own story.

Those criticisms are true. It's not to say, however, that those things are impossible to do at the same time. Last year I read Do No Harm, written by a British neurosurgeon, which did all three in a way that was almost impossible to put down. His descriptions of
...more
Lindsey
Apr 04, 2011 rated it liked it
I couldn't have different tastes from my mother in most things, books included. Her literary diet consists mainly of Chicken Soup for the Soul and self-help/inspirational non-fiction. She's also a chronic worrywart, and feeding into this is her taste for non-fiction dealing with medicine, disease, and mental health. Which brings us to "Head Cases," which I stumbled upon while visiting my parents in Amish Country.
"Head Cases" is a collection of anecdotes from Michael Paul Mason, a brain injury c
...more
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Bookstore Event in NYC on April 9th 1 12 Apr 04, 2008 09:43AM  

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