Roger Rees, Emeritus Professor of Disability Studies and Research at Flinders University, has spent 25 years involved in the rehabilitation and education of people with brain injury, and his newly published memoir focuses squarely on the people he has met and “helped to help”.
Out of Calamity: Stories of Trauma Survivors relates the often extraordinary courage and resilience shown by the people – often sufferers of severe neurological trauma – whom Professor Rees has assisted during his career.
In attempting to regain lost skills and find a new place in society, many of the people described in the book displayed “superhuman” levels of courage, Professor Rees said.
“This courage, along with creativity, is demonstrated regularly at the Community Re-entry and Rehabilitation Program (CRP) for people with brain injury based at Flinders University,” Professor Rees said.
The stories do not always have happy endings – while some readjust successfully, others succumb to illness and depression.
All their struggles are nonetheless heroic, Professor Rees said, and deserve to be known by a wider audience.
“While incidents like motor vehicle and industrial accidents and assaults capture the headlines, the struggle of the years of rehabilitation that follow for the injured seldom register on the wider community,” he said.
“Too often, people who experience severe trauma and illness are unheard and rarely recognised; services for them in the post-acute phase are minimal.
“I hope that the stories in Out of Calamity do them justice, and contribute to a greater awareness of their talents as well as the significant contribution they make to society.”
Professor Rees said the effect of brain trauma carers is also largely hidden
“While the impact on the person experiencing a brain injury, a stroke, a brain tumour or the onset of Multiple Sclerosis cannot be minimised, those who support them must also never be forgotten,” Professor Rees said.
He said that over a life-time, carers have to motivate, cajole and protect, and in so doing often neglect themselves.
“They are too often forgotten people who experience much personal isolation, considerable reduction in income and, frequently, exhaustion,” Professor Rees said.
“They deserve as much help as possible – financial, interpersonal and professional – because without their home-based caring, the age-old model of institutional care might have to be resurrected. And surely no-one wants that.”
Professor Rees’ book will be launched by Dr Norman Swan of the ABC Health Report at Dymocks bookshop in Rundle Mall at 5pm on Tuesday, July 19.