An eye-opener for anyone concerned about concussion—which the authors persuasively argue should include everyone.

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Conquering Concussion


Powerful advocacy for an emerging therapy.

Esty, a seasoned neurofeedback practitioner, and Shifflett (Migraine Brains and Bodies, 2011, etc.), a science and technology writer, argue that public ignorance and medical dogma plague the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injuries (used synonymously with concussion). In this primer, aimed at both lay readers and professionals, they deliver a searing indictment of the status quo and an impassioned plea for a new paradigm. The authors hook readers by opening with stories about concussion’s impact on famous figures, including Henry VIII, Mary Lincoln, Howard Hughes and Elvis Presley. This eases the transition to Esty’s client histories (using pseudonyms), which are woven throughout chapters that cover what happens physiologically during and after TBI and its manifold physical, psychological, emotional and social consequences. Their experiences personalize discussions about the frequency of misdiagnoses, overreliance on pharmaceuticals, the efficacy of neurofeedback to treat TBI and its role in conjunction with other therapies. Esty and Shifflett catalog the abundant chances for brain injury in modern life, particularly in sports, and dispel popular myths that lead to downplaying risks and tolerating repeated exposures. Citing evidence suggesting that frequent smaller injuries are as dangerous as large ones, they document how neurofeedback has brought relief even decades later, helping sufferers reduce or eliminate medications. While neurofeedback results seem miraculous, the authors avoid cure-all claims by discussing unresolved symptoms and physical distortions that brain wave treatment cannot fix. They acknowledge that science cannot yet explain why neurofeedback works—a valid source of skepticism. Critics may question whether the authors have cherry-picked examples to support their case, but the successes provided, often in clients’ own words, speak for themselves. The text is written clearly enough to engage lay readers while still providing the thoroughness and documentation demanded by professionals. They cite more than 300 references, mainly scientific journals and academic books, but they also draw from popular media to keep the discussion relevant and down-to-earth. Clear figures, photos and illustrations; a glossary; and a list of supplemental resources make the book even more user-friendly.

An eye-opener for anyone concerned about concussion—which the authors persuasively argue should include everyone.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0965342506

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Round Earth Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...


A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.


A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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