Michael Paul Mason worked as a Brain Injury Case Manager at Brookhaven for over three years and in that period he developed a unique sense of the people with brain injuries, their families and the systems of care available to them. Much like the people he saw, he endured great frustrations and saw some amazing success as he helped people find funding and rehabilitation. His work grew into an interest far beyond the clinical evaluations he conducted and into who these people really are, the bottom of despair they experience, the amazing barriers they encounter and their personal triumphs. Mr. Mason's interest in brain injury took him far afield to a trauma hospital in Iraq where American soldiers, Iraqi civilians and insurgents were treated side-by-side, their lives saved, but to await some very different outcomes. He traveled around the United States and Canada meeting people with brain injury and in his book: Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath, he eloquently tells each person's story of injury and recovery and shares his personal thoughts on their lives.
I heard Mr. Mason present two stories from his book at the 2008 Iowa Brain Injury Association conference in Des Moines on March 6, 2008. In each story, Mr. Mason allowed the voice of each person to be heard through his taped interviews. The stories of these two people were as different as day and night, but importantly what was conveyed to us in the audience was their personal trials some of which remain ongoing and their resolutions to move forward in life. Although I happened to know both of the people for many years, I hadn't heard their story told that way and I have heard it many times before. This special quality is the vehicle for all the stories in Head Cases. Each person and their story frame the impact of brain injury on their lives and upon their futures. The book will be released in a few weeks and it should be required reading for all of us who are, know or work with people living with brain injury.
Michael Mason has moved on his career from Brookhaven, but he remains a great personal friend and an esteemed colleague. He continues to offer his help to state and national brain injury groups and is involved in the NABIS coalition of brain injury professionals, the Veteran's Administration and the Department of Defense to define the service pathway for our soldiers returning with a brain injury.