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Head Injury Therapy — Writing A Cookbook?

Today’s Austin American Statesman had the inspiring story of Ruby Dee Phillipa.  Ms. Phillipa was a former restaurant owner turned rockabilly musician who suffered a head injury in a 2008 scooter crash.

As part of her therapy, her doctors told her that she should find tasks that helped her brain relearn how to access common words and phrases.  For Ms. Phillipa, that meant writing down the recipes that she had been using for so long.  What she didn’t know was that those tasks would ultimately lead to a cookbook, Ruby’s Juke Joint Americana Cookbook.  (You can buy the book at, , or at BookPeople in Austin.)

I think her path has important lessons for all head injury victims about the work necessary to make a recovery.  Too often, I see victims of head injuries who have been told by doctors or others that they’ll “get better with time.”  Sometimes, that’s correct.  But in many instances, getting better requires hard work and rehab.  Sometimes it’s work you can do on your own — like writing familiar recipes.  And sometimes it’s formal cognitive therapy — work that you have to do with the aid of a trained assistant. 

If you’re not getting better after waiting it out, you need to go back to your doctor and tell them that, and ask for help.  Ask them to provide pro-active things you can do, whether informally or through formal cognitive rehab.  In many instances, waiting it out isn’t a solution, and you shouldn’t just live with your condition.  You need to be working wth your doctor as a team to make sure you’re improving as much as you can.

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