Dr. Mosconi and I want to extend a special thanks to all of the people gracious enough to share their stories. We appreciate your honesty, candor, and contribution to the training of future health care providers. Thanks also to my physical therapy colleagues who recommended these lovely people for our book.
All of neuroscience owes a debt to Phineas Gage, our opening chapter patient case demonstrating both the amazing potential of the brain to heal and the devastating cost of brain injury. We hope someday to travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to pay our respects; his skull and the tamping rod are both on display at Harvard University’s Medical Library. A special section on neuroplasticity featured Armando Ayala, whom I first met when he was a volunteer in our campus PT clinic, and it has been a pleasure to know him since. He is featured in a photograph demonstrating mirror therapy and a video discussing his experiences with phantom limb pain after amputation.
It was inspiring to interview David for Chapter 2. This intelligent, compassionate man fights every day for his own continued recovery as well as for the rights of others. David Karchem described a life-altering journey after sustaining a severe hemorrhagic stroke, his rehabilitation and ongoing recovery, and subsequent dedication to advocacy. He signs his correspondence with several inspirational quotes regarding resilience and his experiences, but my favorite is his own: “The ‘rehabilitation myth’ will only hold you back if you allow it.”
For Chapter 3, we were looking for someone with myasthenia gravis, and a first-year DPT student told me about a family friend, Howard Berkey. It was a short trip down to San Diego County to meet with Howard and his wife for a candid and revealing interview. I am inspired by his strength of character and passion for living a life full of travel and joy in the face of ongoing struggles with this challenging disease. Thanks to both him and his wife for sharing their journey with our future students.
Miles Campa will be turning three about the time this book will go to print; he is one of our cover models, demonstrating a critical developmental milestone and a memorable smile. His mother, Jasmine Campa, was one of my students many years ago, and now a colleague and friend. She agreed to be interviewed when pregnant, and I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the agreeable and cooperative baby Miles several times during his first year to demonstrate normal infant development for our chapter on the developing nervous system. I look forward to seeing his continued development and growth into adulthood, and hope he does not mind being teased in college about his tenure as an infant cover model for our book.
Many years ago, when I still had dark hair, Robert Rohan wheeled past me on his way to a patient room on the neurorehabilitation unit to speak with a newly injured young man. Not only was he a peer mentor at Northridge Hospital Medical Center, but he also served in this role at several Southern California hospitals. It had been a few years since the original injury, and he was active in peer mentoring, played on the wheelchair basketball team Northridge Knights, and shared his experiences with new therapy staff like me. I learned so much from Bobby, information I shared with other patients regarding the reality of living with spinal cord injury. When I began teaching, he was gracious enough to come and speak with my students about his experiences, and readers of this book are also fortunate to meet this optimistic, resourceful, and compassionate man profiled in Chapter 5. He is also one of our cover models, and I love the image of fitness and unlimited possibility in his photo.
Finding a patient who not only survived a brainstem lesion but also went to the Paralympics after completing neurorehab was incredible. Sean Boyle agreed to be interviewed for the book after being contacted by Carlos Roel, who was guest speaking in my class about his experience as a physical therapist to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics soccer team. We were standing in line for lunch when I asked him if he knew anyone we could profile for our brainstem chapter. Carlos pulled out his phone and called Sean, who agreed to discuss his amazing triumph from a nearly fatal condition. One day I hope to meet Sean in person, cheer him on from the sidelines, and thank him for his kindness and generosity in sharing this personal story highlighted in Chapter 6.
Many thanks to our Chapter 7 cover girls, Tabitha Jacobs and her physical therapist, Jen Wong. Tabitha’s brain tumor grew in response to her pregnancy hormones, unfortunately causing such subtle and slow changes that she and her sweet baby, Mali, were in serious danger by the time anyone figured out the source of her problems. An amazing health care team, combined with the love of family and a strong faith, saw them both through to a better future. It has been such a joy to spend time with Tabitha and her family. Tony and I both look forward to seeing Mali continue to thrive in their loving arms.
Interviewing the former provost Dr. Harry Hellenbrand for Chapter 8 was an honor, and more relaxed than I’d anticipated. He put me at ease with his easy, informal style when we met in his office on campus. Writing his story was daunting. I confess that I wanted to craft a story worthy of such an eminent scholar and published author. Harry, thank you for your candid interview on the struggles of living with Parkinson’s disease. I admire your courage and perspective on living a full life, and hope our students will also be inspired as they pursue the difficult study of neuroscience.
Alzheimer’s disease is a terrible neurodegenerative disease that impacts far too many families. Our Chapter 9 case describes the journey of my dear grandmother, Norma Bazett, who made it to age 99, surrounded by music, love, and laughter until the very end. Her daughter and son-in-law, Barbara Bazett and Al Deaton, were kind enough to describe the final years as her caregivers. Grandma Norma would have been pleased to know that her story would benefit students; she spent years as a music teacher, and education was her life’s passion. Hopefully her story will inspire readers to appreciate the needs of caregivers as well as the patients, particularly in progressive, degenerative neurologic disease.
Thanks to Isabel Burrows, his physical therapist, I interviewed the remarkable Dr. Jan Tillisch for our final chapter case. Dr. Tillisch is the first person I’ve ever met who diagnosed himself with a rare and nearly fatal condition, while in the hospital recovering from a severe stroke. Meeting with him and his wife in their lovely and interesting home was such a treat. Dr. Tillisch is a renaissance man—not only a physician, scholar, and educator but also a skilled woodworker, musician, avid collector, and historian. I anticipate continued recovery due to his amazing resources, both premorbid and poststroke. I thank both of them for their warm and gracious hospitality, and for sharing their journey with our future students.
We had fun taking pictures with and of our student models for the Appendix. All of them have bright futures in health care, and we thank them for their time. Demonstrating clinical examination of cranial nerves with vision function were students Jillian Price and Sharlyn Ramirez from MCPHS School of Optometry, in Worcester, Massachusetts. For the remaining cranial nerves, we thank the students from Casa Loma College in Van Nuys, California: Garry Davis, Gabriel Gadia, Juan Garcia, Tricia Mina, Karen Quindara, and Manuel Santos.
Finally, we thank the Peeps-loving staff of the Pasadena Public Library and apologize to those who had to repeatedly shush us. We also give a shout-out to the guys at Express Yourself, who kept us caffeinated. To our long-suffering editor, Michael Weitz, whose patience we repeatedly tested over this very long journey, we say it is time again for dinner! We’ve waited long enough. A special thank-you to Peter Boyle, Richard Ruzycka, Vivek Khandelwal, and Guarav Prabhu for their thoughtful and incisive editing; we could not have done it without their help! To Gaby, thanks for all the delicious lunches she packed for us both, including the homemade cakes that kept our blood sugar adequately maintained. We thank our peer reviewers, Michael Biel and Debbie Lowe, for taking time to give feedback on our manuscript.
Vicky Graham and Tony Mosconi, 2017