When Parents Lead, Children Succeed

B2W Radio - Movement is Mandatory: Rebuilding the Brain After Stroke

B2W Radio - Movement is Mandatory: Rebuilding the Brain After Stroke

Elane V. Scott
Rick Stephens
Featured Guest:
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

Dear Valued Stakeholder,

As with every show we present on Birth2Work Radio, we are extremely proud and honored to welcome today’s guest. One of the notable things about today’s guest though, is that you’ve probably already crossed paths with her in the general media. Oprah, Time Magazine, and a New York Times best-seller all tend to get a person’s name and story into the public consciousness pretty fast! But it was not for her notoriety that I was humbled to speak with Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor for today’s show - the fifth in our wide-reaching health series- it was to hear the words of a scientist describing how her mother helped her to heal after technology had done all it could.

Dr. Jill (as she likes to be called) repeats parts of her deeply personal and profound story about her eight year journey to recovery after experiencing a severe hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of her brain in 1996.

On paper, Dr. Jill’s recovery would tend to read more as fiction for a large part of the world’s scientific community, not because of a lack of understanding for the possibility of some stroke recovery, but for the extent of her recovery. After brain surgery to remove a tumor the traditional medical view for anyone having a stroke of her magnitude was to leave them without much hope for a life of any value. There was not much more they could do for her with known technology.

So everyone moved on, except her mother, who, when confronted with her daughter’s limp body, responded with a biological instinct. She wrapped her arms around her as she did when Jill was a baby, and went back in time. Jill, she thought, needed to move and rebuild her brain/body connection just as she had done when she was a child. Movement was mandatory.

Her mother’s instincts and her commitment were spot on. Dr. Jill’s recovery is now a sparkling ray of hope for millions. Eight years later, with only some loss of memory serving as a daily reminder of something physical that was taken away, Dr. Jill has stepped onto the public stage to tell her story of her physical recovery. (Watch the taped presentation she did for a recent TED conference to get the full story. It’s linked to below here in our media section.) What happened to her professionally, in her own scientific community, though, is a different story.

Our conversation yielded an “ah hah” for Dr. Jill, as well. “What if,” I asked her, “other mothers used the same process she put you through for your brain recovery to optimize their own babies growth and development? What might happen?” Dr. Jill hadn’t thought about it and expressed delight at the opportunity to consider it. “No one else has every asked me that question!”

Because of her re-established ability to articulate, as an adult, what her brain went through to become whole again, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor has been able to give language to processes and stages of development in the growth of the relationship between brain and body that mothers and care givers have intuited throughout time.

At Birth2Work, we believe that Jill Bolte Taylor's recovery is a fantastic story of how technology can technically help some someone to stay alive and how biology and a mother's instinct can help someone to truly live.

Elane V. Scott

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