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

By Cantoni, Louis J. | The Journal of Rehabilitation, January-March 1999 | Go to article overview
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Over My Head: A Doctor's Own Story of Head Injury from the Inside Looking Out


Cantoni, Louis J., The Journal of Rehabilitation


Claudia L. Osborn Andrews McMeel Publishing Kansas City, Missouri 1998, 239 pp. $21.95 Hardcover ISBN 0-8362-5419-8

Claudia Osborn was enjoying a summer bicycle ride one evening in her quiet tree-lined neighborhood, when a heedless young man lost control of his car, swerved around a street comer into her lane, and sent her flying over his car. She was not wearing a helmet. This book details the aftermath of the traumatic closed-head injury she sustained in that life-altering moment.

Dr. Osborn had been practicing medicine for two years as an osteopathic doctor of internal medicine in Michigan. She was the director of the medicine residency training program at her hospital. Now, after admission into emergency and an overnight stay as a patient in the hospital where she had practiced, she was at home, making little progress toward recovery. Before the injury, she had been a vigorous, empathic, accomplished person both in her personal and professional life. At home, she perseverated regarding her need to return to work, had no short-term memory, lacked stamina, and found it almost impossible to plan and manage activities of daily living. How could she do the analytic thinking and complex tasks required of a physician?

Nine months after her injury, spurred by her desire to regain the ability to practice medicine, she, in concurrence with her neurologist and with the support of family members, enrolled as a trainee in the Brain Injury Day Treatment Program at the New York University Medical Center in Manhattan.

Challenges posed for the trainees by the staff of talented professionals, including six psychologists, were daunting, unremitting, or so it seemed to the trainees. All of these "coaches" worked with all of the trainees, but each trainee was assigned to one coach for problem-solving and personal guidance. Six months into the program, Dr. Osborn was devastated by her coach's observation that, given the severity of her closed-head injury, she would not be able to return to her career as a practicing physician.

All of the coaches worked steadily with her. As weeks and months went by, she began, slowly, to sense the validity of their words and to appreciate the necessity of their assessment.

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