The man with the missing brain

Sanjiv Bhattacharya in The Telegraph:

Simon-4_3008751cHere was a young couple driving home through Hancock Park, a well-heeled suburb of mansions and manicured lawns. Lewis was a thriving film producer of 36, best known for the huge comedy hit Look Who’s Talking, starring John Travolta, and Marcy, 27, was in marketing. They’d been married five months. Then out of nowhere, a white Chevrolet van hit them at 75mph, an absurd speed for the neighbourhood. Marcy was killed outright and Lewis was so thoroughly broken that the paramedic on the scene took him for dead. The Chevrolet driver, meanwhile, fled the scene, and was never caught. That was the story the Times ran with – the destructive experience of a hit-and-run in a city where everyone drives everywhere.

Twenty years on, that crash continues to reverberate. Only this time, it’s a happier story, one that Lewis has told in a book, Rise and Shine, and before large audiences at numerous public events. It’s the story of his astonishing recovery, and it not only gives hope to sufferers of traumatic brain injury (TBI), but provides proof, in the most dramatic fashion, of the brain’s incredible ability to regenerate and reorganise itself. Doctors simply didn’t expect Lewis to live on the night of “the trauma”, as his mother Pat calls it. When two Jaws of Life machines freed him from the wreckage, he’d sustained a broken skull, jaw, arms, clavicle and pelvis, with compound fractures in nine ribs. And then there was the “catastrophic brain insult” he’d suffered – a stroke that destroyed a third of his right hemisphere and caused a contusion to the brainstem and severe internal bleeding.

More here.