Complicated and wondrous in its workings, the human brain is composed of trillions of cells, each assigned to a task that gives humans the capability to live, think, and remember. When something goes wrong within the brain, or interferes with its blood flow, the consequences can be serious. "The Brain Disorders Sourcebook" is a complete guide to the normal functioning of the brain and what happens when problems arise.
Compassionate, thorough, and understandable, this wide-ranging guide is a valuable first reference. Cicala (The Heart Disease Sourcebook, not reviewed) puts his finger on the special fear associated with this subject: "In many ways, diseases that affect our brains are more frightening than diseases affecting other parts of our bodies" because such disorders "truly affect us." They may change everything about an individual. Even minor damage from, say, a stroke significantly disrupts life: "Six weeks after a heart attack... most people are back at work.... Six weeks after a stroke (destruction of some of the brain's tissue) most people are in daily therapy trying to learn everyday functions." Despite that bleak outlook, Cicala can help. He begins by elucidating the normal structure and function of the brain, so readers can follow ensuing explanations of what can go wrong. Discussing medical tests for diagnosis of brain disorders, he clarifies the differences between X rays, MRIs, and CT scans, noting when each is most appropriate. The author then looks in depth at "Stroke and Vascular Disease of the Brain," "Brain Tumors," and "Other Neurologic Disease" (such as traumatic injury, meningitis, and parkinsonism), indicating their course, indicated treatment, and likely outcomes. The appendices list support groups and research institutes that can assist in dealing with the various diagnoses. Comprehensive advice on the basics, with counsel on where to mm next. (Kirkus Reviews)