2015-07-16 / Healthy Living

Book review: Good news for those on the path to recovery from stroke

This marvelous self-help book is likely to save or extend a lot of lives. However, its central focus is enhancing the quality of life for those who have undergone lifechanging illnesses or injuries.

While the information and advice is primarily for stroke victims, Bob Mandell’s guidance can be applied to many different situations in which recovery from a disability is sought. His personal story is the engaging and inspiring trunk and branches of the book. On these branches, Mr. Mandell has hung the fruits of what he has learned.

For me, his most widely applicable piece of advice is the need to take responsibility, to question, to be an aggressive patient who challenges medical personal and especially conventional wisdom. Passive people are likely to be buried by their insecurities, by medical care bureaucracy and by accepting what’s immediately available or convenient rather than what is best for their recovery and rehabilitation.

Mandell Mandell You have to fight to discover the best information, the best hospital, rehab facility and medical expertise for your needs. You must be willing to take educated risks.

However, Mr. Mandell also knows that you can’t let an aggressive stance turn into adversarial relationships with those whose help and experience you are seeking. Make friends on this journey to well being, he advises. Don’t turn people off.

Another crucial piece of advice is the mantra “one step at a time.” People whose expectations are too ambitious (unrealistic?) are likely to be disappointed and fall into despair. They will lose heart and may never make progress. Set attainable goals and work hard to achieve each. With others, develop a plan that is consistent with your condition at the starting line so that you can reach the finish line of restored vitality and functionality.

“Stroke Victor: How to Go from Stroke Victim to Stroke Victor” by Bob Mandell. Creative Projects International. 256 pages. Trade paperback, $16.95. “Stroke Victor: How to Go from Stroke Victim to Stroke Victor” by Bob Mandell. Creative Projects International. 256 pages. Trade paperback, $16.95. In 54 brief, zesty and often humorous chapters (plus four appendixes), the author creates the feeling of “step-by-step” conquest over the stroke or other debilitating condition from which you need to rebound. You need to make and keep your commitment to practical interim goal setting, he says .

Writing in an almost breathless style, he underscores his points via strong section headings, outline technique, boldface emphasis and a kind of question-and answer-dialogue. Most important is his use of italicized passages that reveal what he was thinking at different stages of his own recovery and rehabilitation. He admits to and shares his doubts and dilemmas along the way.

No one should think that anything less than tough-mindedness and hard work will bring the results you desire. No one should think there won’t be setbacks.

Mr. Mandell shows his readers how to become researchers. Finding networks of people and organizations with shared concerns and knowledge, finding sources that explain various kinds of medical practitioner credentials and rankings of hospitals’ specialty units (like stroke units) and finding special umbrella organizations such as NIH StrokeNet are necessities for you and your optimum recovery.

The information in “Stroke Victor” seems endless. There is helpful guidance for and about caregivers, useful sections like “Sex after Stroke,” “Integrative and Innovative Therapies” and an enormously important how-to discussion about discovering and taking part in clinical trials of new medications and therapies.

All these positive attributes of “Stroke Victor” do not quite disguise the fact that this book could benefit from careful, professional proofreading, however.

Through his book, Mr. Mandell is a great coach on paper. He is also a coach — a stroke coach — in life. He is a fully committed stroke recovery research advocate and educator who has founded the Stroke Research Foundation. You can check it out at StrokeRF. org. To invite Mr. Mandell to a speaking engagement, email him at bob@strokevictor.com. ¦

— Phil Jason, Ph. D., United States Naval Academy professor emeritus of English, is a poet, critic and fr eelance writer with 20 books to his credit, including several studies of war literature and a creative writing text. See his review of the novel “Exit Strategy” on page C5.

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