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Stroke Diaries is a book about stroke. The author, Dr. Olajide Williams, is an Associate Professor of Neurology, at Columbia University; Williams is also the Associate Director of Neurology, at Harlem Hospital Center. As described in the "Introduction", the book is a collection of clinical experiences, each inspired by a real patient. In that sense, the book is Williams' personal stroke diary. The clinical experiences anecdotally forming the textual tapestry are interwoven conspicuously with strands of emotionally riveting narrative, humanistic concern, uplifting spiritual recognition, and philosophical type musing. Although the substantive contents are composed partly of relatively technical material, the writing of Williams is notably quite lay reader friendly. For readers interested in learning about stroke, the experience of reading this book should be highly instructive, in a practical sense, sobering, but also inspirational.
Structurally, the book is comprised of four "parts", configured into seventeen "episodes". Characteristically, in the respective episodes, Williams anecdotally describes his clinical and personal interaction with a particular stroke patient. Selected biographical facts about the patient are anecdotally described as well. At an episode's end, there is characteristically a structural section ("Comment"), in which Williams presents some relatively technical material tied tightly to the episode's substantive corpus.
Following the text is a "Bibliography", in which Williams, on an episode by episode basis, provides citations (alphabetized by author last name) for germane research materials.
Numerous "Figures" and "Tables", embedded in the textual terrain, contribute importantly to the book's instructive value.
Also grafted into the text's body, with animating effect, are a multitude of anecdotally quoted fragments of conversation.
The book's substance is suffused with practical information, pertaining to stroke.
The reader is informed further of some of the extant gaps in medical knowledge relating to stroke.
In the part of the book (Part One) focusing on causes, prevention, and emergency treatment of stroke, there is instructively informative and practical oriented discourse extending to: types of stroke, risk factors, warning symptoms and signs, ways to reduce stroke risk, tissue plasminogen activator, cocaine as a risk factor for stroke, amphetamine related stroke, heroin abuse and stroke, aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, hemorrhagic stoke, and seizures.
In Part Two, Williams' intellectually sharp writing scythe cuts a considerable swath across the field of unusual and underrecognized stroke syndromes. Williams' blade of discussion cuts to: sleep-disordered breathing, obstructive sleep apnea, hemineglect, locked-in syndrome, akinetic mutism, man-in-the-barrel stroke syndrome, silent stroke, dementia, and whispering stroke.
In the book's third part, the substantive focus of Williams is on psychosocial and physical challenges after stroke. Among the subjects falling within the keenly discerning ken of Williams are: sex after stroke, post-stroke depression, post-stroke anxiety disorders, language recovery after stroke, walking after stroke, and caregivers.
Recovery from severe stroke garners the perspicacious attention of Williams in concluding Part Four. Among the topics garnering rapt attention are: stroke in babies, and the clinical phenomenon known as the Lazurus effect.
Cautious readers may caution that the frontiers of medical knowledge, with respect to stoke, continue to evolve; and that Williams, metaphorically, has taken a still photo, of a movie in progress.
There may be additional concern that the relatively small sample population of clinical experiences described by Williams may be unrepresentative of the full cohort of stroke patients.
From an academic perspective, it is noteworthy that: the substantive contents do not have the extensive research referencing characteristic of academic writing; the book's substance is substantially anecdotal in nature; and the contents of the book are relatively generalized and simplified.
The possible misuse of the book, by particular readers, as a surrogate for the professional counsel of qualified professionals, may further concern critical readers.
But the stroke clinical expertise as well as humanism and spirituality revealed, in lay reader friendly fashion, by Williams should be of greatly edifying interest to stroke survivors, as well as their family members and caregivers.
Williams' much evident knowledge of stroke likewise should be of great interest professionally to many professionals, including: neurologists, neurosurgeons, emergency room physicians, internists, primary care physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, speech pathologists, speech therapists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, nurses, social workers, physical rehabilitation specialists, public health professionals, neuroscientists, neurobiologists, medical ethicists, theologians, and philosophers.
© 2011 Leo Uzych
Leo Uzych (based in Wallingford, PA) earned a law degree, from Temple University; and a master of public health degree, from Columbia University. His area of special professional interest is healthcare. Twitter @LeoUzych