Vision Concussion 101:
Step 1: Refraction: Vision usually shifts and the change in refraction should be prescribed.
Step 2: The brain has to relearn processing information from the right eye separately, the left eye separately and then both eyes together.
There you go. That’s the two most basic principles in rehabilitation for athletes who have sustained a concussion in the vision area of the brain.
Sure, many athletes also exhibit convergence insufficiency and/or accommodation problems, but we have to get the brain to learn how to process information from each eye separately first. When we don’t, the athlete’s brain becomes overwhelmed…..overloaded from a bombardment of stimulus that it can’t figure out what to do next and where to go. The athlete becomes symptomatic and must be shut down.
The use of eyeglasses (tranaglyph glasses) which have a red lens over the right eye and a green lens over the left eye are used to help train the brain in what is known bi-ocular vision therapy. We then put the athlete through several exercises where the brain learns to interpret information from the right eye and left eye separately.
Our favorite exercise has been with the use of our Fit Light Trainer. We have programmed the trainer in a manner that half of the lights are set to flash red and the other half are set to flash green. The athlete’s right eye sees the lights that flash red and must wave is or her hand over it to turn it off and another light randomly appears. The athlete’s left eye sees only the lights that are programmed to flash green. Athletes stare with a straight ahead gaze, go through a series of three minute exercises using their side vision and eye hand coordination during this routine. This helps reboot the dorsal vision stream.
We shouldn't confuse the above exercises with computer exercises which use red/green or red/blue eyeglasses. We use such a computer trainer (the Vizual Edge) in the later stages of recovery because this trains the ventral vision stream. In early stages, the dorsal stream needs to be rebooted before we use training routines that are solely ventral stream.
Eye doctors and vision exercises are very beneficial to the recovery of athletes with concussions affecting the vision area of the brain. We are beginning to find instances, though, where some athletes are doing vision therapy without first addressing the most basic step discussed in this article. I liken this to a patient starting to run after an ACL surgery before doing basic strength exercises and walking exercises first.
Make sure your athlete is getting the best care so that they can avoid frustration and delay in recovery.
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