Book Review. Brain Injury Treatment: Theories and Practices

There are now many books on brain injury and so one always has to ask whether we need another one to add to our library shelves. In the case of this book the answer is ‘yes’. It has 24 chapters and covers a wide range of topics with regard to the treatment and management of brain injury. However, it differs from most textbooks as it does not cover all topics but deals with certain specific topics in some detail and thus is not a completely comprehensive résumé of the subject. However, the topics covered are certainly of interest and many of the chapters provide an unusual and different perspective of topics that are not generally covered in more standard brain injury textbooks.

As an example, there is a good coverage on the early phase of management after brain injury and the book has benefited from the inclusion of a neurosurgeon (Klaus von Wild) as editor.  Many of the other early chapters cover topics that would not normally be included in a standard textbook on brain injury.  The first chapter is a very useful and interesting discussion on pre-hospital management after traumatic brain injury.  This is obviously a vital part of the overall care pathway yet is rarely discussed or given sufficient attention in other textbooks.  There are other useful and interesting chapters on the organisation of neurological intensive care units and a further chapter discussing the relevance of the guidelines of the German task force on early neurological/neurosurgical rehabilitation. 

One criticism is that the editors have allowed some of the authors to get rather carried away with the description of their own particular research topics or method of rehabilitation.  Some of the methodologies described, whilst interesting and potentially useful, have not yet been widely accepted in the brain injury rehabilitation field.  There is, for example, an extensive chapter on the electrical treatment of coma as well as a chapter on one method for the rehabilitation of equilibrium posture control (the NeuroBird method).

There are a number of useful chapters addressing specific topics that are not usually covered in depth in standard textbooks.  The chapter on sleep disorders in patients with traumatic brain injury is fascinating – and very useful.  There is a good chapter on diagnosing and treating affective disorders after brain injury and also a useful overview of neuropharmacological management after traumatic brain injury by Nathan Zasler and colleagues.  There is also a very interesting chapter on rehabilitation in water by Gianpietro Salvi and colleagues.  Hydrotherapy is widely used but rarely written about.  There is also a fascinating chapter on complementary medicine in traumatic brain injury by George Zitnay.  It is a useful résumé of the different complementary medicine techniques which are, after all, widely used by brain injury survivors but are rarely mentioned in medical textbooks. 

Some specific sub-topics are also covered in succinct and clear chapters including a chapter on low level response states, detecting high risk patients after mild brain injury and an important chapter on neuropsychological recovery in children and adolescence following traumatic brain injury.  The important topic of return to work after brain injury is thoroughly covered in the last chapter by Davide Vernè and colleagues.

Another criticism is that the book has tried to be too comprehensive in certain subjects.  There is, for example, a rather brief and patchy chapter on the role of stem cells in rehabilitation.  Overall, this textbook provides a good coverage of many of the problems that ensure after brain injury.  It is a lengthy book (550 pages) and some of the chapters themselves are quite long but nevertheless the majority are clear, well written and well referenced.  This is a useful textbook with a good range of interesting and selective topics and adds to our knowledge and certainly should be added to our libraries.

Brain Injury Treatment: Theories and Practices.
Edited by José León-Carrión, Klaus R. H. von Wild and George A. Zitnay
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Date: 2006
ISBN No: 1-84169-572-6


Michael P Barnes
Newcastle upon Tyne