It is always a pleasure when I read the words of an author who eloquently articulates ideas I believe to be important. Even better when it is a patient’s family that leads me there. A couple of days ago, I was led to a brainline.org article published last year, “Fighting the “TBI Wars”: New Alternatives for TBI Survivors,” by Joel Goldstein, based on his book, No Stone Unturned: A Father’s Memoir of His Son’s Encounter with Traumatic Brain Injury. Goldstein expresses his hope that he can pass along lessons learned from his son’s tragic situation, most pointedly, evaluating and experiencing therapies alternative to conventional medicine.
Rather than trying wax poetic about this article, it is easier just to pull a few quotes:
“Conventional medicine only takes survivors of severe TBI so far, often ending at the nursing home door, or heavily medicated at home, facing long empty hours, and overwhelming family resources. Unconventional therapies are not merely a reasonable option, they are a necessity.”
“Should we accept the doctors’ verdict and wait, hope, and pray for the best?”
“Doctors generally offered an editorial opinion, too — suggesting that a therapy, though safe, was a waste of time and money. One trusty “devil’s advocate” was sure that all alternative therapies were bogus, admonishing that, “Not all who rave are divinely inspired.” But here we had the advantage — at least we knew we were ignorant. It seems a truism, but even the best-trained, most skilled, and well-intentioned professionals in the world often suffer a kind of tunnel vision, sticking to familiar, well-trod paths that pioneers once blazed. Before they eventually won universal acceptance, the practices of conducting heart-surgery or of treating peptic ulcers as infections were doggedly opposed and bitterly denounced by the medical establishment.”
Jumping to the bottom line, the Goldsteins put together an informal “board of advisors” to evaluate potential alternative therapies (defined as practices falling outside the standard of medical practice and not covered by health insurance). Through experimentation and experience, they eventually tried several alternative therapies, settling on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), Craniosacral, Bolles Sensory Learning, Novavison’s Vision Restoration (VRT), and nutritional supplementation. In Goldtein’s words, “Some successes were breathtaking.” Today, Bart is a “lively, charming young man, living nearly independently in his own apartment near Albany.”
We should be thankful that Joel Goldstein took the time to document his family’s long journey and has the talent to write a powerful story to share with the world.