There is increasing recognition of the role of vision post-traumatic brain injury (TBI) and great demand for optometrists who can work collaboratively with hospitals, concussion care clinics and rehab facilities. A typical scenario for me is to evaluate a patient while he or she is in the hospital for intensive inpatient rehabilitation. I may see them once or twice at that facility before they are discharged home or to a skilled nursing facility, after which they come to my office for further treatment.
Dakotah works with two boys who are 12 and 13 years old in vision therapy and CrossFit. He said it has been interesting to see how CrossFit helps them with their vision and how vision therapy helps them with their hand-eye coordination.
“Vision therapy and understanding how important vision is to academics…blurred vision, double vision. Students won’t be learning at the same level because they can’t see things clearly,” Bomgardner said.
Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald Can Catch A Football With His Eyes Closed, Here’s How You Can Too
As a kid, Fitzgerald suffered from a vision problem that made it difficult to pay attention in school. His grandfather Dr. Robert Johnson, an optometrist, worked with Fitzgerald to overcome his disability through vision therapy. Fitzgerald believes that one of the keys to his success in the NFL stemmed from this eye strengthening he received as a child. Inspired by his grandfather’s initial visual acuity drills, Fitzgerald soon came up with his own drills at home. Night after night, Fitzgerald would lie awake in his bed and throw a football up in the air, catching it in his dark bedroom. He claims he caught the majority of the tosses, which developed into his uncanny feel for the ball in the air during games.
A concussion can present symptoms falling into six categories—cognitive/fatigue, vestibular, ocular, post-traumatic migraine, cervical and anxiety/mood—and each symptom has its own unique treatment to be most effectively managed. “The key is you match the right treatment to the right problem and if you do that, this stuff is treatable,” Collins says. For example, ocular symptoms meas an athlete is struggling to coordinate their eyes together. One eye might be slower to adjust than the other. In that case, the athlete would undergo specific vision therapy, exercises designed to retrain the eyes to move as one unit.
Many athletes need excellent vision to perform well in their sports, and now many are adding something new to their practice regimens: vision training. The idea has been around for years, but only recently have studies hinted that it might really work — that it might be possible to train yourself to see better without resorting to glasses or surgery.
After her two concussions, Mader, 22, was bedridden for three weeks and underwent vision therapy for two months. When she was finally allowed to return to the soccer pitch, she experienced episodes of anxiety.
Deanna Lugo couldn’t understand why her 9-year-old daughter Analeina was struggling with reading. It wasn’t until Analeina’s optometrist, chiropractor and pediatrician recommended vision therapy and referred her to Dr. Penelope Suter that it was discovered that Analeina had convergence insufficiency and accommodative insufficiency, which means she has trouble focusing and maintaining focus on near items, like the words in a book.
Though Camille has been taking part in many types of therapy, Galli attributes much of Camille’s progress in reading, and conducting herself in the world generally, to vision therapy. The same is true for Francesca Dennis, Brian’s mother, even though during the time her son was doing vision therapy he also switched schools, a change that, Dennis told me, vastly improved his life. And Jack, the boy from Atlanta with the language disorder, began for the first time to receive speech therapy while he was doing vision therapy. When I asked Allred whether Jack’s progress might just as well have been because of his speech therapy, she said: “To be honest with you, I don’t think you can tell. From my perspective, I don’t care. Are you going to deny your kid a therapy just to see if another therapy works? I’m mostly going on my gut.”
When first assessing an injured equestrian, Harris notes the following so she has a baseline for each patient: balance, visual scanning, and how the body responds to specific questions. She also notes the patient’s pain level and strength. She then considers which modalities mighty best help the patient return to a normal lifestyle; these include vision therapy, balance therapy, physical therapy, exertional therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
“It’s a strict regimen, workout therapy for two hours a day,” Cooper said. “I started vision therapy today to work on my vision. I do that 45 minutes a day and I am feeling great,” he added.
After a neurologist told Ginsburg she may never walk again, she became determined to prove him wrong. “I started an intense vision therapy protocol, fighting against daily pain, nausea, vertigo, and fatigue,” Ginsburg recalls, “It’s not easy learning to walk and see and drive again. It’s not easy to work hard at anything for a long time, especially when progress is slow. If you expect it to be easy, you’ll just end up frustrated when it isn’t. But, I refused to give up.”
After receiving vision therapy to address his eyes not working together, Pierre was diagnosed with a reading and writing disability, which made his schooling more difficult. He was determined to not utilize any special services in high school and, according to Jill, has maintained a 4.0 GPA despite needing about three times as long to read something as a normal student.
What should you do if you suspect your child has ADHD? Experts recommend that he be evaluated for functional vision problems by a certified optometrist, and also be evaluated for ADHD. If convergence insufficiency is diagnosed, vision therapy is usually recommended. The therapy helps a child’s eyes work together by teaching the eyes to move properly without fatigue. It is typically done by a developmental optometrist (OD) or a vision therapist, who works under an OD’s supervision.
Gibson and Truitt settled on Dr. David L. Cook in Marietta, where Truitt would spend two months in vision therapy. Gibson said Cook has worked with NFL players who have suffered concussions.
As visual therapy continues to be grow as a viable solution to concussion-related symptoms, there will be increased opportunity for technological tools to create further solutions for both eye-care professionals and patients to more effectively address these ‘invisible’ symptoms