Books about TBI

Over the years, Jack has acquired a library of books covering traumatic brain injury from a variety of perspectives: medical/technical, personal, family, and so on. The list on this page is merely a selection, including title, author, length, and publication information. Each item includes the text of the book's jacket copy, possibly some review excerpts, and brief notes from us providing further information about the book. The order is reverse-chronological (more recent titles first).

Note: If a book is available on, clicking on its heading will take you to that page on the Amazon site.

Successfully Surviving a Brain Injury: A Family Guidebook, From the Emergency Room to Selecting a Rehabilitation Facility

Garry Prowe, 248 pages, Brain Injury Success Books (January 21, 2010)

Someone you love has suffered a brain injury. The doctors can not yet make a prognosis. Every brain injury is unique and unpredictable, they say. You have been told to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. What do you do now? Successfully Surviving a Brain Injury is an easy-to-read guidebook for families suddenly thrust into the painful and confusing world of brain injury. It teaches readers the basics of brain trauma. It guides them step-by-step through the recovery process. It provides the practical information they need to handle the insurance, financial, legal, emotional, family, and personal issues that accompany a brain injury. It also describes the wide range of impairments caused by brain trauma and the factors that influence how well someone recovers. This book is not only a practical and essential roadmap to a successful recovery, it also is an inspirational story of how one couple overcame profound changes in the ir relationship and created a fulfilling new life.


A brain injury is a devastating, life-altering experience for the patient and the family. As a trauma surgeon for the last thirty years, I see distraught families desperate for comprehensive and easy-to-read information about what the future holds. Successfully Surviving a Brain Injury answers most of their questions in a compassionate and thorough manner. This book is a must read for everyone who wants to confront, understand, and overcome the challenges of living with a brain injury. --Lawrence Lottenberg, M.D. Associate Professor of Surgery and Anesthesiology, Trauma Medical Director, University of Florida College of Medicine
For anyone who's ever struggled to navigate through the often devastating wake of sudden traumatic injury, Successfully Surviving any Brain Injury is a highly recommended guide to being fully prepared for any eventuality. --Apex Reviews
Garry Prowe has done brain injury families a great service with his book.


My Brain Gets Full

G. Gayle Kelley, 386 pages, BookSurge Publishing (January 15, 2010)

This is a true story...the story of my long journey, much of which I have traveled alone. Most of the time, I have not known where the road would lead...and I have no map to guide me through the light at my feet. I still have many questions about this mysterious path I've been forced to take. It's like no other journey I have taken before. I hope others who find themselves on such an unexpected and unwanted journey will take heart from my book. My entire world changed on December 18, 2002, when I experienced a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a fall at my place of work. Could I heal from this terrible injury? Would my family and I ever be able to enjoy anything approaching the quality of life we had before the accident?

Notes: About the Author: G. Gayle Kelley lives in a small central Kentucky town, Carlisle, with his wife Donna and grandson Jon. His educational/work background is business management. In the late nineties, he added two years of computer-related studies to his educational background and entered the technology world, focusing on business processes and procedures. He suffered a traumatic brain injury while working as the Business Transformation Manager for a procurement and distribution center in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2002. You can visit his estore or his website.


Unthinkable: A Mother's Tragedy, Terror, and Triumph Through A Child's Traumatic Brain Injury

Dixie Fremont-Coskie, 224 pages, Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing (January 4, 2010)

First shocked with horror and despair after her son's traumatic brain injury, Dixie Fremont-Smith Coskie and her family grow to find hope, healing, and even greater love. Dixie's narrative of how she came to appreciate the simplest of things-when her son is able to blink his eyelids, lift his finger, utter a word-is powerfully moving. It will bring you into a realm where body, mind, and spirit are pushed to their limits. UNTHINKABLE is about perseverance, filled with universal lessons of struggle and triumph. Dixie follows each chapter of the harrowing journey with vital insights to assist others through their tragedies. A Companion for Caregivers - Powerful tips and tools to help any parent faced with a child's traumatic injury or illness.

Notes: Screen legend Patricia Neal endorses UNTHINKABLE:

I am someone who does not just believe in miracles, I depend on them. Miracles come in many forms. Some come at the speed of a lightning bolt... body healed... a life saved. But most miracles come about because of incredible hard work and determination, not only by the injured person fighting for his or her way back, but also by the often unsung heroes who do the world of the angels here on earth. One of these angels is Dixie Fremont-Coskie, who has written UNTHINKABLE. The book not only tells the remarkable story of her son Paul's continuing recovery from a terrible cycling accident, she has also outlined her insights and experiences as a caregiver in the form of a practical handbook to help others who may face similar challenges. I highly recommend this book. As a woman who has had one of my own children triumph over a traumatic brain injury, I salute the author's courage, faith, and most of all love. --Patricia Neal, February 2010


Couldn't Happen to Me: A Life Changed by Paralysis and Traumatic Brain Injury

Jill C. Mason, 180 pages, BookSurge Publishing (November 2, 2009)

Couldn't Happen to Me offers hope to families facing the unthinkable: a vibrant 26-year-old mowed down by a hopeless drunk and left for dead. Author Jill Mason has battled back from expectations that she would not recover beyond a vegetative state to fully independent living even as she continues to struggle with traumatic brain injury and life in a wheelchair. Her story begins in 2004 when she is left in a crumpled heap on the side of a Santa Rosa highway, her boyfriend killed outright. Drawing on family journals and her own hazy memories, she details the challenges of the first few months while she was hospitalized and then the painfully long recovery in her childhood home. Against all odds, she successfully pushes to regain her independence. Fearlessly honest, Jill generously shares her frustrations as well as practical advice on types of chairs, buying a car, and dating. Most of all, she offers her indomitable spirit as an inspiration to her readers.

Notes: Jill Mason was 26 in 2004 when she was hit by a drunk driver in Santa Rosa, California, while riding her bike in preparation for an upcoming triathlon. Her boyfriend, Alan Liu, was killed outright. With a newly-minted master’s degree in communications, Jill had worked for an engineering firm and pursued her love of athletics. She played lacrosse for Santa Clara University, from which she graduated in 1999. She was a champion high school runner in Grass Valley where she grew up--and to which she returned after the accident when she was unable to take care of herself. Although she remained in a coma for months, through extraordinary determination, hard work, and loving care, she has managed to begin to live independently in Sacramento. She gives speeches to new cadets in the California Highway Patrol, talks with students all over northern California, and in 2008 was selected through a competitive essay contest to be an Olympics torchbearer, an experience covered by international media.


Brain Injury Survival Kit: 365 Tips, Tools and Tricks to Deal with Cognitive Function Loss

Cheryle Sullivan, 176 pages, Demos Health (September 1, 2008)

More and more Iraq war veterans are returning Stateside with brain injuries, drawing public attention to this condition. This practical, easy-to-use book gives brain injury survivors, their families, and their loved ones the strategies they need to boost brain function and live well. The book is a compendium of tips, techniques, and life-task shortcuts that author Cheryle Sullivan, a medical doctor and brain injury survivor, has compiled from personal experience. With a different tip for each day of the year, the book explains balancing a checkbook, using medication alarms, compensating for impaired memory, locating things that have been put away, finding the right word, concentration exercises, and much more. From basic principles to unique solutions for saving time and energy, this book is packed with helpful information for those coping with the special challenges of this surprisingly widespread condition.

Notes: As a brain injury survivor and a doctor, Dr. Cheryle Sullivan offers a unique perspective on neurologic damage and the resulting functional impairments. Dr. Sullivan speaks widely to a variety of audiences on brain injury, and has presented multiple workshops for The Brain Injury Association of Colorado and published articles in print and on the web on living with a brain injury.


If I Only Had a Brain Injury

Laura Bruno, 196 pages, Xlibris Corporation (March 28, 2008)

Unlike other books on healing from so-called "Medical Mysteries," If I Only Had a Brain Injury encourages readers to chart their own inspirational journeys. The book's structure follows The Wizard of Oz storyline (Dorothy's journey begins with a concussion), guiding readers to a "yellow brick road through recovery." A collection of personal examples, alternative treatments and spiritual growth exercises, this book also offers wisdom from thirteen contributors, including Robin Cohn (Vice President of New York State Brain Injury Association), Dr. William Padula (Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association), Dana Reeve, and Kay Strom.


If I Only Had a Brain Injury is a page-turner and a must-read. It is a testimony of the power of believing in oneself, a true survival story. --Alina Oswald
The 'Oz' analogy is something I had never thought of and it is perfect. ... The book will be a great resource. ... I especially like that you offer ways to deal with the emotional impact on survivors, friends and family members. Your book will be of great help to families. I see it all the time, people with TBI are looking for anything that will help, and conventional medicine can only do so much. --Karen Ruppert, Nurse Manager, trauma rehabilitation unit at Harborview Medical Center

About the Author: After completing a Master's Degree in English at the University of Chicago, Laura Bruno spent two years in the corporate world. Just before her return to graduate school, she suffered a brain injury and could no longer read without debilitating migraine headaches. Years of misdiagnoses forced her to find alternative means of getting well. Now a writer and Intuitive Life Coach, Laura enjoys a full practice. From a woman once considered "permanently disabled," If I Only Had a Brain Injury is itself testament to the incredible resilience of human brain and spirit.


Brain Injury Survivor's Guide: Welcome to Our World

Larry Jameson and Beth Jameson, 200 pages, Outskirts Press (November 30, 2007)

Brain Injury Survivor's Guide: Welcome to Our World is written for Brain Injury Victims and their families by a Brain Injury Survivor and her family. INTRODUCING B.R.A.I.N.-an innovative strategy for memory improvement. Learn the strategies Beth used to overcome memory, cognitive and behavioral problems after her brain injury. Dozens of lists and planning pages provide a way to compensate for a brain that is not performing "as it once did". "Knowledge is Power to a Brain Injured Person."


The Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Workbook: Your Program for Regaining Cognitive Function & Overcoming Emotional Pain (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)

Douglas J. Mason and Gottfried Jean-Louis (Foreword), 174 pages, New Harbinger Publications (November 2004)

It happens in an instant—squealing breaks, a ladder that gives way, a pool cue swung in a moment of rage—but the affects of a blunt-force trauma to the head can last a lifetime. One of the more common injuries that can affect cognitive function, mild traumatic brain injury, or MTBI, affects more that half a million Americans each year, and research suggests that as many as 6.5 million Americans are living with the effects of MTBI. For the first time ever, this book assembles facts about MTBI together with a research-based program that readers can use to overcome the disadvantages of traumatic brain injury.

The book addresses the emotional issues that often accompany MTBI, especially anxiety and depression. Readers learn basic self-help strategies to counteract problems that may be caused by the injury. The later chapters discuss the four major domains of cognitive function and ways in which individuals can challenge their limitations and repair specific brain functions. The book concludes with an exploration of the various potential long-term affects of MTBI and the outside resources available to assist readers.


From the Publisher: Your Program for Regaining Cognitive Function and Overcoming Emotional Pain From the author of The Memory Workbook. How to:

A specialist in cognitive impairments offers sufferers of mild traumatic brain injury the only workbook designed to help them overcome emotional pain and regain their mental capabilities.


Cracked: Recovering after Traumatic Brain Injury

Lynsey Calderwood, 128 pages, Jessica Kingsley Publishers (January 1, 2003)

Text provides a biography of Lynsey Calderwood's struggle with brain injury. Provides insight into the emotions and social issues dealt with during recovery and in everyday life.

Notes: London publisher. No professional reviews. One positive customer review on Amazon.


Being with Rachel: A Personal Story of Memory and Survival

Karen Brennan, 256 pages, W. W. Norton & Company (March 1, 2002)

Two courageous spirits, mother and daughter, challenged by a new reality after a life-changing accident. The call came at 6 a.m. Karen Brennan's twenty-five-year-old daughter, Rachel, had been in a motorcycle accident. She was in a coma. Her CAT scan, the neurosurgeon said, was very, very ugly. Instantly, Brennan's life of comfortable dailiness becomes "passionate necessary-ness." Cautioned that her daughter will not be the "same person," Brennan waits and hopes through weeks of intensive care, months of coma, and Rachel's determined efforts to walk again. The joy of Rachel's first words is followed by the discovery that she has a severe short-term memory deficit. Rachel cannot remember or fashion a simple narrative. A professor with a special interest in memory, Brennan takes up the challenge of helping Rachel rebuild herself. Jump-starting her daughter's memory by constantly retelling Rachel's own story, Brennan also fosters the creativity and humor that have always characterized her daughter. Their collaborative effort, bound by love, is a dynamic memoir of recovery and reinvention.

Notes: Author is AWP award-winning fiction writer. Reviewed fairly positively by Publisher’s Weekly:

Although Brennan's writing is appealing, the interest in her story is limited, focusing almost like a medical case study on her daughter's brain injuries. While inspirational in tone, it will likely speak principally to those who face similar problems.

Also reviewed positively by Library Journal, The Bookwatch, San Francisco Chronicle, Salt Lake City Tribune, etc. Very well received by 9 Amazon readers.


Listening in the Silence, Seeing in the Dark: Reconstructing Life After Brain Injury

Ruthann Knechel Johansen, 236 pages, University of California Press (March 1, 2002)

Traumatic brain injury can interrupt without warning the life story that any one of us is in the midst of creating. When the author's fifteen-year-old son survives a terrible car crash in spite of massive trauma to his brain, she and her family know only that his story has not ended. Their efforts, Erik's own efforts, and those of everyone who helps bring him from deep coma to new life make up a moving and inspiring story for us all, one that invites us to reconsider the very nature of "self" and selfhood. Ruthann Knechel Johansen, who teaches literature and narrative theory, is a particularly eloquent witness to the silent space in which her son, confronted with life-shattering injury and surrounded by conflicting narratives about his viability, is somehow reborn. She describes the time of crisis and medical intervention as an hour-by-hour struggle to communicate with the medical world on the one hand and the everyday world of family and friends on the other. None of them knows how much, or even whether, they can communicate with the wounded child who is lost from himself and everything he knew. Through this experience of utter disintegration, Johansen comes to realize that self-identity is molded and sustained by stories. As Erik regains movement and consciousness, his parents, younger sister, doctors, therapists, educators, and friends all contribute to a web of language and narrative that gradually enables his body, mind, and feelings to make sense of their reacquired functions. Like those who know and love him, the young man feels intense grief and anger for the loss of the self he was before the accident, yet he is the first to see continuity where they see only change. Medical and rehabilitation professionals, social workers, psychotherapists, students of narrative, and anyone who has faced life's trauma will find hope in this meditation on selfhood: out of the shambles of profound brain injury and coma can arise fruitful lives and deepened relationships.

Notes: Literary press. (Author teaches literature and narrative theory.) Positive reviews from Library Journal & Booklist. No Amazon reader reviews.


Where is the Mango Princess?

Cathy Crimmins, 272 pages, Vintage (October 9, 2001)

Humorist Cathy Crimmins has written a deeply personal, wrenching, and often hilarious account of the effects of traumatic brain injury, not only on the victim, in this case her husband, but on the family.

When her husband Alan is injured in a speedboat accident, Cathy Crimmins reluctantly assumes the role of caregiver and learns to cope with the person he has become. No longer the man who loved obscure Japanese cinema and wry humor, Crimmins' husband has emerged from the accident a childlike and unpredictable replica of his former self with a short attention span and a penchant for inane cartoons. Where Is the Mango Princess? is a breathtaking account that explores the very nature of personality-and the complexities of the heart.

Notes: Crimmins, author of two previous books, received positive reviews from Amazon, Elle, US Weekly and Booklist, and a semi-positive from Publisher’s Weekly:

Though this story is an eye-opener on some levels, it remains essentially shallow. More information on neurological research would have been welcome, and attention to the experience of other TBI families (to which Crimmins devotes only three paragraphs) would have added the perspective that this self-centered account lacks.

Positive reviews from over 50 Amazon readers.


Smile and Jump High! the True Story of Overcoming a Traumatic Brain Injury

Donald J. Lloyd, Shannon L. Kehoe, Susan E. Lloyd, 240 pages, Starlight Press (September 1, 2001)

The telephone call every parent dreads... a near fatal automobile accident... and a family changed forever. Given only a one-in-a-hundred chance of survival, the victim beats the odds. Her visible injuries dissipate one by one, but she and her family must deal with a much more serious problem that can't be seen... a traumatic brain injury.

Smile and Jump High! is the moving account of how one young woman and her family struggle through the 'hidden tunnel of darkness' for more than four years. Their journey begins with re-learning basic physical tasks of life such as holding a fork and using a toothbrush; taking a shower and eating; and subsequently walking and talking. These prove to be easy compared with what comes next, however. They must still deal with residual brain deficits that affect her perception, reasoning, problem-solving abilities, communication skills, and volatile behavior.

The book is an emotional ride through the minds of family members and the victim using personal journals and a diary. It follows them on a sometimes serious, sometimes hilarious roller coaster ride from hope to despair, frustration to elation, finally ending in triumph. It also demonstrates the value of perseverance and love.

This is a story worth telling because it inspires hope and comfort for brain injury victims and their families. It's also a warning to every parent, teen, and young adult about making bad choices. The entire scenario was preventable... automobiles, alcohol and fatigue don't mix!

Notes: Self-published (Shannon Kehoe is a TBI survivor). No professional reviews. One positive customer review on Amazon.


Over My Head: A Doctor's Own Story of Head Injury from the Inside Looking Out

Claudia L. Osborn, 265 pages, Andrew McMeel Publishing, March 15, 2000

Locked inside a brain-injured head looking out at a challenging world is the premise of this extraordinary autobiography. Over My Head is an inspiring story of how one woman comes to terms with the loss of her identity and the courageous steps (and hilarious missteps) she takes while learning to rebuild her life. The author, a 45-year-old doctor and clinical professor of medicine, describes the aftermath of a brain injury eleven years ago which stripped her of her beloved profession. For years she was deprived of her intellectual companionship and the ability to handle the simplest undertakings like shopping for groceries or sorting the mail. Her progression from confusion, dysfunction, and alienation to a full, happy life is told with restraint, great style, and considerable humor.

Notes: Very well received on Amazon. Reviewed by Library Journal. A Must-Read.


I'll Carry the Fork! Recovering a Life After Brain Injury

Kara L. Swanson, 205 pages, Rising Star Press (December 1, 1999)

In January 1996, a van speeding through a red light ended the life Kara Swanson had known. She suddenly joined the 2 million Americans who suffer brain injury each year. It was like being thrust into a foreign country with no map, no way to speak the language, no directions home.

"This is the book I wish I could have read when I was first diagnosed with a brain injury," Kara writes. I tried to take the information that it took me months and years to learn and put it into a short, easy-to-read book that would help survivors and their loved ones better understand the process of recovery."

Written with laugh-out-loud humor, candor, and technical input from medical and legal profesionals, I'll Carry the Fork! offers inspiration and practical help to anyone dealing with the aftermath of brain injury. Because as Kara says, "Sometimes when your life ends, you don't actually die."

Notes: No professional reviews. Well received by most on Amazon. A lot of humor.


Confronting Traumatic Brain Injury: Devastation, Hope, and Healing

William J. Winslade, 240 pages, Yale University Press (November 10, 1999)

This book--the first comprehensive, accessible book on traumatic brain injury--explains what it is, how it is caused, and what can be done to treat, cope with, and prevent it. The book includes illuminating case studies, key ethical and legal issues, public policy proposals, and practical steps we can take to protect ourselves from brain trauma.


Medical philosopher Winslade has written a readable and broad overview of head injury: causes, treatment, rehabilitation, and health and public policy implications. The medicine and science of brain injury, however, are secondary in this book to discussions of rehabilitation and policy issues. The author survived a brain injury as a child, and that story, as well as high-profile cases such as Reagan aide James S. Brady and the Central Park "wilding" victim, inform the book and give it a personal touch. Hard to categorize, finally: this book will certainly be of interest to those who work with victims of head injury and their families; its readability, organization, and practical information make it a reasonable choice for community collections and collections in healthcare and social service settings. -- Library Journal

Notes: Author is a medical philosopher and/or bioethicist. Reviewed by Amazon, NY Times Book Review, Library Journal, Booklist. 3 positive reviews from Amazon readers.


Brainlash: Maximize Your Recovery from Mild Brain Injury

Gail L. Denton, 369 pages (large print), Demos Medical Publishing; 2nd edition (November 1, 1999)

Author is a psychotherapist and a brain injury survivor. Text, for consumers, providing the tools and facts to make recovery of brain injury more intelligible. Covers every aspect of the recovery process, from driving and sex to self esteem, stamina, support systems, nutrition, pain, and more.

Notes: Very well received on Amazon.


Conquering the Darkness: One Woman's Story of Recovering from a Brain Injury

Deborah A. Quinn, 275 pages, Paragon House Publishers (April 1, 1998)

No description or reviews. However, of the 11 positive Amazon customer reviews, here’s what one had to say:

Deborah Quinn details a nightmare of personal, financial, legal and medical entanglements. Her story is one relatively few brain injury victims experience. The lifestyle she describes is an exclusive one and the rehabilitation resouces available to her are not generally accessible to any but the very well funded.

She reveals strategies and priorities of the legal and insurance world in an interesting way as well as her means of arriving at decisions during the process.

Many survivors do not reach the level of insurance disputes or legal representation she generated because they are not as lucrative a subject as Ms. Quinn. This does not diminish the anguish she endured, her sense of loss or the difficulty of her journey. That is a part of each person's recovery and no amount of money can spare that.

Notes: Author details legal struggles.


Coping With Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Diane Roberts Stoler, Barbara Albers Hill, 334 pages, Avery Publishing Group (January 1, 1998)


Over 325,000 Americans annually suffer mild head trauma from automobile accidents, assaults, falls, sports injuries, etc. With a diagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), the individual will be told to rest for a few days or weeks, and, with luck, that may be the end of it. Unfortunately, many of those affected suffer ongoing, debilitating symptoms, migraines, depression, seizures, etc., for months or even years. Symptoms are unpredictable and are difficult to diagnose because there is no single test to detect MTBI and post-concussive syndrome (PCS).

Stoler, a practicing psychologist who has herself experienced mild head injury, and Hill, a psychologist and writer, have compiled a comprehensive manual explaining what is involved in the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of brain-injured people. Presenting short case studies, they discuss the difficult diagnostic context of head trauma and offer practical suggestions for coping with physical and emotional repercussions. Especially valuable for patient education libraries. --Library Journal

Notes: 16 mostly positive reviews from Amazon readers.


In Search of Wings: A Journey Back from Traumatic Brain Injury

Beverley Bryant, 233 pages, Wings Press, 1st ed edition (September 1, 1992)

In Search of Wings tells the true story of one woman coping with traumatic brain injury after a car accident that affected her cognitive skills and memory. Her determination to conquer her deficits in order to regain total independence stands as an inspiration to all survivors in their long trek back from disability. It is a journey that once you have shared, you will never be able to forget.....inspiring! upbeat! humorous! educational!

Notes: Self-published. No professional reviews, although an M.D., a rehab center, and the BIA of Maine all provided reviews (or jacket copy). 3 out of 4 Amazon reviewers liked it.

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