Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Everyone has something to say

Doonesbury has been running a daily strip about a soldier serving in Iraq who sustains a brain injury... we find out today that he has aphasia. If you haven't been reading it, it's following Toggle, who now has an iPod ear bud lodged in his skull following an explosion and has just survived the risky procedure of being air lifted to a medical facility.

The communication and thinking impairments associated with traumatic brain injury are nothing to be ashamed of and I'm looking forward to seeing it play out, particularly in this context given that the media has been quick to show the medical and physical side of brain injury thanks to Bob Woodruff, but has minimized the language aspects (BW acknowledged he had to re-learn words but never uses the word "aphasia" in his own story). I'm guessing it's downplayed because people associate verbal eloquence with intelligence -- just ask this guy. In brain injured people,it just isn't true.

For Better or Worse also had an accurate, well researched, moving representation of aphasia in it's strip last year after the creator's mother had a stroke (she tells her story through "Grandpa Jim").

The more people hear and see the word, the more the stigma goes away. Hurrah for accurate portrayals of brain injury in every-day media.

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