Book Talk
Shaken Brain book cover by Dr. Elizabeth Sandel ’71
Combating Concussions
by Sherri Kimmel
If COVID-19 is sometimes referred to as the invisible enemy, then concussions may be equivalently defined as the invisible injury. If you have an elderly parent or a toddler, have a child playing a contact sport or are a road-bike warrior yourself, you may already be personally aware of how prevalent concussions are.

As author and physician Elizabeth Sandel ’71 notes in Shaken Brain, “one-quarter of Americans reported having a concussion at some point in their lives, and close to 30% [of those injured] said they have suffered from long-term effects, most commonly headaches.”

When Sandel began treating traumatic brain injuries in the 1980s, most of her patients sustained concussions during motor-vehicle accidents. “But with all of the safety features in cars and other vehicles, that percentage has gone down, and now the largest percentage [40%] is falls,” she says.

Among sports, football, soccer and ice hockey lead the pack, she says, but another “common diagnosis for people going into an emergency room is not a team sport but actually bicycling.”

Often concussions occur when a driver opens a car door into a bicyclist passing by, she explains. And it’s not always the cyclist who’s injured. Sandel had a patient who opened her door and was struck by the cyclist. “She fell and hit the cement and had a major bleed,” says Sandel.
Shaken Brain book cover by Dr. Elizabeth Sandel ’71
Dr. Elizabeth Sandel ’71 reveals the risks and the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries
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Bucknell religion major Dr. Elizabeth Sandel ’71 reveals the risks and the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries.
During the course of her research, Sandel says, “I read about the Dutch reach — they open the driver’s door with their right hand [before getting out of the car], which means you have to turn your head to see if there’s anybody coming on a bike next to your car. I thought, ‘Why don’t we do this in our country?’ ”

One thing she is not advocating for is a sedentary lifestyle. “I don’t want to say, ‘Just sit on the couch and don’t take any risks,’ ” she says. “I want people to know what their risks are, and I also want us as a society to know that we should be reducing the risks through prevention.”

Shaken Brain: The Science, Care, and Treatment of Concussion. Elizabeth Sandel ’71. (Harvard University Press, 2020)
The Greater Gulf: Essays on the Environmental History of the Gulf of St. Lawrence (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020)
The Greater Gulf, co-edited by Campbell, is the first concerted exploration of the environmental history — marine and terrestrial — of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Essayists tell many histories of the longest estuary in the world, which has been fished, fought over, explored and exploited.

Mistress (New Issues Poetry and Prose, 2019)
These poems present a cross-generational conversation between Thomas Jefferson’s slave Sally Hemings and the contemporary narrator about what it means to be a Black woman in their respective landscapes, while at the same time demonstrating how little dialogues about Black women and Black female experiences have changed in more than 200 years.

Alumni Books
Jim McCloskey ’64
When Truth Is All You Have: A Memoir of Faith, Justice, and Freedom for the Wrongly Convicted (Doubleday, 2020)
In this memoir McCloskey describes the midlife crossroads that led him to found Centurion Ministries, the first group in America devoted to overturning wrongful convictions. Together with a team of forensic experts, lawyers and volunteers — through tireless investigation and an unflagging dedication to justice — Centurion has freed 63 prisoners and counting.

Robert Hanlon ’81
Block by Block: The Historical and Theoretical Foundations of Thermodynamics (Oxford University Press, 2020)
This book offers an original perspective on thermodynamic science and history, which lies at the heart of physics, chemistry and engineering but remains an indecipherable black box for many, even scientists and engineers. Hanlon presents a strategic range of foundational topics involving the atomic theory, energy, entropy and the laws of thermodynamics in an accessible manner.

Photo: Susan Freundlich