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Monday, 15 August 2011

Mind Matters

Around thirty or more years ago I was involved with a number of people dealing with the placement and education of youngsters with significant learning and behavioural problems. It was not an easy business. Our psychologists were firmly wedded to their tests.

That these had been published and were based on their own data etc. did not help because any questions or added considerations in relation to placements could make a dent in the income they derived from the sales or even destroy the findings of their research.

Meanwhile our elderly local consultant psychiatrist was a devoted Jungian. This was all very well but unhelpful and a cause of recrimination when I was suggested other medical issues could be involved. He was as resistant to other medical investigations as were the psychologists.

For both these what had really got their backs up was when with other doctors we had put in hand extensive vision and hearing tests for every child at the bottom end of the ability range. Even we were shocked by the numbers who were found to have a clear problem to one extent or another.

What was a particular worry to me was how little anybody knew at that time about what exactly was going on in the brain, a highly complex organ about which there were may theories but few real facts. What put the cap on it was when a senior official from Whitehall came round our region telling us how many youngsters with a particular rare problem we should have.

He was a classicist wholly ignorant of the science of statistics and its more intricate implications. As the problem in my view was a brain problem and unusual I felt we had to deal with them on a case by case basis and not just apply a rubber stamp dictated by officials.

Time has moved on and mercifully we are beginning to learn more. The first link concerns how scientists can now find more information from modern methods of looking into the brain.

This deals with the increase in numbers given CT scans in hospitals in America and these are increasing regarded there as necessary to dealing with a wide range of conditions.

This one refers to the importance of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease to be seen by neurologists as well as or rather than other disciplines:

What a pity it is that it is so difficult in the NHS for even severe stroke victims to have the benefit of all this. Unless, of course, you are a professional footballer with significant toe damage.

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