Sunday, February 01, 2015

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor

This is a must read book for anyone who has had a stroke, needs to care for someone who has had a stroke and particularly for anyone who works in the medical profession. Actually it's a must read book for anyone with a brain.

Bolte Taylor is a brain scientist, At the age of 37, she experienced a rare form of stroke that left her so disabled that she could not walk, talk, read, write or recall any of her life. This book gives an account of how she observed her brain deteriorate during the stroke and how she (with the assistance of her mother and medical professionals) helped her brain to heal, to eventually, after 8 years, make a complete recovery. 

Her stroke occured in the left hand side of her brain so she lost her language and mathematical abilities and found herself in a state of 'feeling at one with the universe' as her right brain took over. From this 'euphoric nirvana' she had to bring her left brain back into action. It is incredibly inspiring to read how she did this! Obviously her training in neuroscience meant that she was able to be much more informed and helpfully analytical about her brain than most people would be, but her insights are helpful for everyone, whether recovering from a stroke, helping someone else who has had a stroke or just in terms of interest about your future brain health. 

Before telling her own story, Bolte Taylor outlines some brain science and at the end of the book she outlines practical things that people who have suffered strokes need to help them make a full recovery. Plus she gives advice on how to be kind to your brain and how to maximise the value of both sides of your brain. These parts of the book would be particularly useful for people in the medical profession to help ensure that the best possible care is given to people who have had a stroke.

As well as being helpful and practical though, this is a totally inspiring story about how someone can recover from a major stroke and live the life they want to live, though it does get irritatingly new-agey in parts. In Bolte Taylor's case that is educating people about their brains and creating, anatomically correct stained glass brains.

(This is a book that seems to inspire very different reactions in its readers, as you can tell if you read the reviews on Good Reads).

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor published by Hodder.