Back from the Brink: How Crises Spur Doctors to New Discoveries about the Brain

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Dana Press, 2004 - Medical - 302 pages
Just a few short years ago, the outcome of a life-threatening brain injury lay in the hands of the victim's god. Neurologists had a self-mocking term for their role in healing: "Diagnose and adios." While doctors knew more about why and how a brain might die or be permanently impaired, they rarely intervened in brain trauma cases, believing there was little they could do. Today, though, a brave new world of brain rescue is opening up. A handful of hospitals around the country have begun to develop neurological intensive care centers where aggressive new treatments are pulling brain-injured patients back from the brink.

Acclaimed science journalist Edward J. Sylvester here takes us to one of the first of these facilities to develop neurointensive care, The Johns Hopkins Medical Centers in Baltimore. Sylvester introduces us to Marek Mirski, the pioneering neurologist who leads the neurointensive team, and follows Mirski into the very center of the brain trauma storm through five dramatic and very different cases. Sylvester also takes us on a whirlwind side trip to New York's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where Mirksi's compatriot Dr. Stephan Mayer—the founding neurointensivist—struggles for the life of yet another patient. A vivid, elegant writer, Sylvester has filled his book with unforgettable and fascinating events. His descriptions of the maelstrom in the traumatized brain are some of the most powerful ever put to paper, and the human faces in his cast of characters are almost clear enough to touch. Back from the Brink combines the best of medical journalism with the drama of ER as it covers some of the most innovative developments and exotic territory in modern medicine.

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Back from the brink: how crises spur doctors to new discoveries about the brain

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Journalist Sylvester brings his honest, investigative, holistic approach to this portrait of two landmark neurointensive (brain surgery) care units. Both Johns Hopkins and Columbia Universities have ... Read full review

About the author (2004)

Edward J. Sylvester is a professor at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He is the author of The Healing Blade: A tale of Neurosurgery and Target: Cancer. He is the principal author of The Gene Age, written with Dr. Lynn C. Klotz. His journalism has appeared in national publications, including the New York Times.

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