Concussion and TBI

  • 2.5 million people annually in the US visit a hospital for traumatic brain injury. Countless other incidents go unreported. These shocking numbers are sourced from a report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
  • 69% of children between the ages of 9-18 had a diagnosed vision problem after concussion as found in a 2016 study published in Clinical Pediatrics. While an astonishingly high number, it is not surprising given that at least 50% of the brain is comprised of visual pathways and at least 80% of sensory perception is visual.
  • Vision problems are common after concussion as further discussed in this article published by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Our team at Park Ridge Vision collaborates with neurologists, pediatricians, physical therapists, occupational therapists and other health professionals in order to provide a comprehensive approach to recovery after brain injury.

While concussions are considered “mild traumatic brain injury” or mTBI, what we have learned is that it is mild to everyone except for the patient. Symptoms from concussion can be debilitating and are often frustrating since the patient “looks fine”.

In order to help patients get back to being themselves, our team approach utilizes the latest advancements in vision care including lenses, prisms, tints and/or therapy to rehabilitate the visual system. If you have suffered from a mTBI or know someone who has we would be honored to help.

More information can be found at the Concussion Project.

5 Things you need to know about TBIs and mTBIs 

Over 50% of the brain’s neural pathways are related to vision. For this reason, a person who suffers a TBI usually ends up with visual symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • Sensitivity to light. Many concussion victims experience increased sensitivity to light. They tend to find sensations irritable that unaffected people can handle, for example, dealing with computer screens, fluorescent light, or strobe lights. Sometimes after a concussion, the visual system loses its ability to manage visual noise, which makes it harder to focus and easier to become overwhelmed by an excess of visual stimuli.
  • Strained eye teaming. Eye teaming is the eyes’ ability to cooperate as one unit and produce a clear image in the brain. With this function impaired, you may see double vision, suffer reduced depth perception and struggle more with your orientation and mobility.
  • Visual hallucinations. These hallucinations can occur as flashes, spots, or stars that float across your vision. They show that the brain is misunderstanding certain packages of information.

How can vision therapy help me if I’ve suffered a concussion? 

Neural plasticity is a term that refers to the brain’s ability to rewire itself and adapt to do what it needs to do, in spite of loss. We have found that with the right stimuli, training and exercises, this remarkable quality can cause the brain to heal itself. If you have vision issues after an mTBI or TBI, essentially what has happened is that certain parts of the brain are malfunctioning since severed connections inhibit them from communicating with other parts of the brain.

Consistent vision therapy can retrain the brain to use its abilities, and it can restore those key connections which enable it to correctly process and interpret visual information. By presenting different, repeating stimuli to the brain we can target specific visual abilities that have been lost, making regrowth possible.

Some of these visual struggles can sometimes be reversed in a mere matter of weeks. Others can sometimes take months  and others years depending on the severity of the condition. Concussion is almost always best treated with a multi-disciplinary approach. We would love to chat with you about how we can help!