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University of Iowa News Release


April 17, 2008

Mason will discuss road to recovery for brain-injured soldiers April 25

Thousands of soldiers return from the Iraqi war with brain injuries and must struggle to adapt and again become productive members of society. Michael Paul Mason will explore their struggle Friday, April 25 during a multimedia presentation titled "The Pipeline: A Trip Through the Military's Medical Megaride."

The presentation, which runs from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in N150 in the Lindquist Center on the University of Iowa campus, tells the story of a soldier in Iraq who suffered a brain injury in an explosion and examines his treatment as part of the most sophisticated medical response in history and the repercussions of his injury as he returned to the United States.

Mason, author of "Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath," will share his knowledge on brain-injured soldiers in the Iraq war and their treatment as a guest speaker at the UI College of Education Rehabilitation Counseling Program's Spring Colloquium, Awards, and Reception.

Vilia Tarvydas, a professor in the UI Rehabilitation Counseling Program and event organizer, said Mason will also share the perspective of military caregivers in Iraq and throughout soldiers' subsequent medical and rehabilitation care.

"He conveys the reality of experiencing a brain injury, and goes beyond the sterile neuroscience and military facts," Tarvydas said. "He provides a window on what it is like to be there and go through these powerful events. His work also conveys the humanity of the individuals involved and reminds us about the role the brain plays in making us truly human."

Mason works with head injury patients in Tulsa, Okla., evaluating them for admission to the neurological rehabilitation unit in Brookhaven Hospital. His book stems from his experiences traveling to Iraq as a journalist and writing an article in Discover Magazine about the treatment of brain-injured soldiers.

Though this is his first book, he has been a writer, lecturer and speaker for some time. He has appeared on several national news programs, including CBS News, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and NPR's "Morning Edition" and has been an editor for two publications.

Mason's experiences correspond to an important part of the UI Graduate Programs in Rehabilitation because students there learn to assist people with physical, mental, developmental, cognitive and emotional disabilities to achieve their life goals through counseling, Tarvydas said.

Mason's discussion about brain injury is especially relevant to UI graduate students in the program, Tarvydas said, because these students will be able to help in the rehabilitation of people with brain injuries.

"With the education they receive in our program, our students will be able to assist those with brain injuries by providing vocational and personal adjustments and help individuals to be able to function, live and work in the community," Tarvydas said.

Tarvydas said there are 46 graduate students in the Rehabilitation Graduate Program, which was recently ranked as the fourth best graduate program in the nation among public institutions in U.S.News & World Report's "America's Best Graduate Schools 2009."

Mason is expected to speak for an hour and answer questions for 30 minutes afterwards. He will be available to sign copies of his book, which became available in early April.

An awards ceremony and reception will follow for students with various academic achievements. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Tarvydas at or visit the Graduate Programs in Rehabilitation Web site at For individuals with disabilities who would like to attend and need special accommodations, contact Reta Litton at 319-335-5275.

Founded in 1872, the UI College of Education was the nation's first permanent college-level department of education. Since then, the college has gained an international reputation of excellence in programs as diverse as Rehabilitation Counseling, Educational Measurement and Statistics, Counseling Psychology, Elementary and Secondary Teacher Education, and Higher Education Administration. The College of Education is also home to the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills and the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. For more information see

RELATED: Mason will read on 'Live from Prairie Lights' at 7 p.m. April 25. For more information, visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Vilia Tarvydas, UI Rehabilitation Counseling Program, 319-335-5285,; Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077,; Writer, Jenna Ely