by Stephen J. Kiraly
Your Healthy Brain: A Personal and Family Guide to Staying Healthy and Living Longer. By Stephen J. Kiraly. Vancouver: self published, 2008. ISBN 978-0-9808814-0-0. Paperback, 346 pages. $24.95. www.healthybrain.org.
Dr Kiraly’s highly readable and fact-filled guide succeeds very well in drawing attention to the need for greater awareness of brain health and what the reader can do to improve and maintain it. The book evolved from workshops and seminars he has given to professional organizations and patients since 2000 and is directed to the general public, although health care providers are also likely to learn from it.
I liked Dr Kiraly’s book for several reasons. His emphasis on the interaction between genetic endowment and experience is, of course, dear to the heart of any psychologist, but I also share his general philosophy that the legendary “fountain of youth,” if it exists, is more likely the result of exercise than hormone replacement. More importantly, he supports his conceptual model and philosophic approach with research findings. His use of humor and nontechnical language make his book all the more readable, as does the fact that it relates to a host of familiar issues and events from sports-related concussion to recovery in traumatically brain-injured soldiers. Finally, his program that focuses on eight pillars of brain health provides the reader with explicit directions on living a long and healthy life.
My criticisms of Your Healthy Brain are few. At times I found the first section repetitious, and I would have liked references to the original journal articles in the text or a list of principal references in an appendix. Finally, while I applaud Dr Kiraly’s words of encouragement to sedentary readers to exercise regularly, his comment that an exercise habit can be established after a month’s practice overlooks the distinction between habit formation and maintenance.
If the goal of Dr Kiraly’s guide is not only to inform, but to elicit behavior change, it has succeeded in my case. I’ve already discussed the risk of concussion from heading a soccer ball with my daughter, and her club now includes copies of the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool (referenced in chapter 7) in the first aid kits for every one of its teams.
—David M. Lawson, PhD, RPsych
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