Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and concussion have made the headlines in recent years, as their effects are becoming better understood. However, many of us have only a limited grasp of how these injuries can occur, how they can impact vision, and how they can be treated.
At Eyes Focused on You, our primary goal is to provide our patients with the information and assistance they need to take charge of their health and the health of their families. A good understanding of traumatic brain injury and concussion is vital to prevention, early detection, and proper treatment. Without treatment, the brain may not heal and the effects may get worse.
Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussion Defined
A traumatic brain injury happens when the normal functioning of the brain is disrupted by something outside of the body, such as a bump, blow or jolt. Effects can range from mild to serious, and symptoms can show immediately, or increase or decrease over time. A severe TBI can cause an extended period of unconsciousness and/or memory loss. A mild TBI is called a concussion and happens when the brain is shaken back and forth inside the skull. Concussions can vary in severity and symptoms include loss of consciousness, memory problems, headache, confusion, difficulty thinking, attention deficits, mood swings, and frustration. A concussion can also impact vision.
Causes of TBI and Concussion
The leading causes of TBI and concussion include falls, motor vehicle accidents, and contact sports. However, sustaining a TBI is not always a dramatic or even painful event. TBIs can also be caused by seemingly insignificant incidents, such as the bump you might get inside a crawlspace. It's important to acknowledge such incidents because even though not all will need treatment, multiple bumps, blows, and jolts can have a cumulative impact on your brain over time.
TBI, Concussion, Vision and Learning
Our eyes provide us with a picture and our brain interprets that picture and provides us with vision. Vision enables us to make sense of the world, interact with it and learn. Essentially our eyes are an extension of our brain but sometimes after a TBI, the communication between the eyes and the brain is interrupted. Unfortunately, vision problems may be overlooked when a TBI is initially treated, and sometimes symptoms don't materialize right away. So it's important to know what to look for, yourself.
Symptoms of TBI-related Vision Problems
According to the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA) studies show that 90 percent of TBI patients experience vision problems, including:
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Reading difficulties
- Headaches when performing visual tasks
- Difficulties with eye movement
Seek treatment right away if you experience any of these symptoms. For children, it's even more critical to act quickly because 80% of learning is acquired through vision!
Fortunately, TBI and concussion can be treated.
Vision Therapy (VT) is an impactful optometric discipline that has been around for 50 years. It treats a variety of vision problems, including those associated with TBI. It's also an important new offering at Eyes Focused on You through our recently opened clinic, FOCUS VISION THERAPY. VT is provided by a certified vision therapist who creates a personalized exercise plan to retrain the brain, and in the case of TBI injuries, promote healing. Learn more about VT here.
Microcurrent Point Stimulation (MPS) is another effective treatment. MPS is a non-invasive, drug-free treatment for chronic pain. MPS is administered via a small device that delivers concentrated microcurrents to key acupuncture, motor and trigger points. MPS relaxes muscles, encourages the release of endorphins, and improves circulation -- all of which impact pain.
At Eyes Focused on You, we view our patients' health holistically. That means we link arms with other wellness professionals in a Better Together approach that broadens the treatments we provide and gives patients more options. We have seen the benefits of MPS in our office and are excited by the results. To get a closer look at MPS visit Wallis for Wellness.
As with any type of injury, prevention is key. So, wear the right helmet for the activity, be aware of your surroundings, and avoid unnecessary risks. When you think of everything the brain does for you, shouldn't you do what you can to protect it?