Title: The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity.
Editors: Norman Doidge, MD
Publisher: Penguin Books; 427 pages
Reviewed by: Sara Pschigoda Wagner, CPO
In his recent book, The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Normad Doidge, MD, shares fascinating case studies to skillfully explain the theories and possibilities of the brain’s neuroplasticity. Doidge describes neuroplasticity as the property of brain tissue to change its own structure and function in response to activity and mental experience. The examples shared this this book are non-invasive and natural interventions that were applied to patients with chronic conditions who had not found success with conventional treatment methods.
The examples of applying neuroplastic techniques expand from patient-driven retraining visualizations to utilizing types of energy for neurostimulation. The author describes patients with chronic pain who are able to overcome their discomfort and discontinue pain medications by using neuroplastic techniques to effectively retrain how the brain processes pain messages. The author describes a patient with Parkinson’s disease who is able to minimize the manifestation of the typical shuffling gait by visualizing normal gait movements. Next, the author details a case about a patient who benefits from laser light treatments to help with damage to the brain tissue following a tumor resection. Similarly, the author discusses the use of sounds, such as manipulated recordings of music and voices, to induce the patient into using listening as a pathway to retrain how the brain processes information. The author discusses the use of specialized physical movements to help reduce spasticity in patients with cerebral palsy and even the use of specialized eye movements to reduce dependence on eyeglass correction.
Summary: The Brain’s Way of Healing offers exciting tales of treatments that represent a paradigm shift from conventional treatment offerings. Doidge’s book serves as a reminder to those who work in healthcare that patients are individually complex and clinicians should keep an open mind with emerging technologies. Currently accepted treatment methods were at one time thought of as cutting edge, and in order to keep pushing the boundaries of treatment options for their patients, clinicians should be open to learning about, trying, and maybe even discovering new treatment options.
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