Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Research Book Review: Body Trauma

Book: BODY TRAUMA: a writer’s guide to wounds and injuries
Author: David W. Page
ISBN: 0-89879-741-1
Number of pages: 232

You might remember that when reviewing Cause of Death [link] I mentioned that it was written neutrally and that that fact managed to make the book a decent read without falling into the gross category. Unfortunately Body Trauma does not share that characteristic. While the medical terms are just that, and their descriptions can be better or worse, the ‘everyday comparisons’ the author throws in, along with the selected excerpts that he uses to illustrate his points, are poor taste at best, gross at worst.

The book covers:

  • Part I: An overview on trauma
    • Concepts and terminology in trauma care
    • Care of the trauma victim in the field
    • The trauma center
    • Care of the trauma patient in the operating room
  • Part II: Specific traumatic injuries by organ system
    • Head trauma: from concussion to the persistent vegetative state
    • Neck and spinal cord injuries: snapped, stabbed and strangled
    • Chest trauma: the Dirty Dozen maiming injuries
    • Abdominal trauma: beware of hidden damage
    • Extremity trauma: crunched arms and legs
  • Part III: Unique trauma injuries
    • Bites: animal assaults
    • Impalement injuries and mutilation: from fencing to fences
    • Traumatic amputation and replantation: don’t lose the missing part!
    • Burns and frostbite: the scars of temperature extremes
    • Diving accidents and altitude sickness
    • Assaulted elders, battered women and injured kids: the defenceless
    • Sexual assault: unspeakable trauma
    • Organ donation: who makes the ultimate gift?
  • Bibliography
  • Glossary

Useful or not, the truth is that the way in which the book is written makes it unattractive. As I mentioned previously, the comparisons make it uncomfortable to read at times and I will admit to having put the book down more than a few times, not wanting to read more. I made myself finish it and I’ll try to be objective about the usefulness of the whole volume.

The book will not work as reference for writing a medicine novel, with a doctor as main character, no matter how many times the author tries to convince you of it. Some graphs are good and informative, but many times you just get a medicine term thrown in and then downplayed in very simplistic terms. It is a good reference for the occasional paramedic gibberish and emergency procedures in the field, or for a non-medical character overhearing the doctors’ lingo. It throws in a bunch of non-gunshot-nor-stabbing injuries that can be used to put a character out of commission for a few days / weeks / months.

One thing I’ll say though, the chapters on assault and rape lack the chiding, which is something to be thankful for. It throws in a number of creepy statistics that I hope are not accurate, and a bunch of myth/fact about rape that I could swear I have read somewhere on a rape-victim support web page, but I’d say they are the best two chapters on the whole book; it is probably due to the writing style.

I was surprised at how fast the spinal cord injury was mentioned, described and moved past. Considering how much research I did for SCI last year, I guess I have a little bit of an idea of how it works, but it was only considered as part of a neck fracture, with only a passing mention of lower back injuries. This triggers me wondering how accurate the rest of the information provided is. Maybe accurate is not the right word, maybe I am thinking of… in-depth?

All in all, though it might be a decent reference at times, this is a book I don’t recommend for the writing style alone. Too many poor-taste jokes that in the end make the grossing out out-weight the valuable information that the book offers. Google it, will be better.

At least, that is my opinion.

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