Vision Therapy – A Remarkable Journey of Finding & Keeping Hope
During the planning phase for Vision Development of WNY, the entire staff came together to choose a message for our letterhead; which would capture the essence of what we do with Vision Therapy. We unanimously chose “Restoring Vision and Hope” because we strongly believe Dr. O’Connor’s philosophy: “By leading individuals to see themselves and their world differently, we give them the vision to choose whatever they hope for in life. ” Hope is something we never want to lose in any situation.
After 15 years of working alongside patients with a brain injury and their families in vision therapy, I am still in awe of their individual struggles and journey towards healing. I feel fortunate to see God’s hand at work in my job.
Vision is a very complex system and continues to develop throughout our lifespan. It is based on how we interpret, understand, and express visual information learned through our life experiences. This complex system can be brutally disturbed after a head injury. Sometimes the after-effects can be life-altering. Some of the common vision problems are double vision, balance issues, headaches, light sensitivity, and functional visual field loss.
According to Headway of WNY: every twenty-one seconds, someone in the United States sustains a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
It seems we are only in the infancy stages of learning about neurogenesis (the forming of new neural connections) and neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to modify its connections or re-wire itself) and how it pertains to an injured brain. In my experience, it is never too late to begin vision rehabilitation for an individual with a brain injury.
I am currently working with a woman named Kali, who in May 2005 was in a severe car accident resulting in a severe traumatic brain injury. Four months into her recovery, she needed a shunt placed in her head which malfunctioned causing her cerebral fluid drain out overnight. This caused Kali’s brain to collapse across the midline causing uncontrolled activation “storming” (seizures, body posturing, twisting, increasing heart-rate, respiration, perspiration, loss of eye control and other abnormal neurological responses). Once this subsided, Kali could barely communicate yes and no. Her prognosis was uncertain, and she only could see darkness.
Dr. O’Connor visited her in the hospital and began some Syntonics (specific treatment using light frequencies to affect the nervous system), in hope of restoring some of her vision. After numerous sessions, a small window of vision was returned to her.
Kali’s mother Linda, has researched every avenue she could for treatment and support. She has tried numerous alternative and restorative treatment and therapies through the years. Kali and her mother have never given up on doing whatever is needed to continue the path of improving function and life skills.
This year her family decided to enroll her in a program of in-office vision therapy in hopes of progressing further. Kali is a delight to work with. Her long-term memory and her impressive use of complex words astound me. At her recent evaluation, her visual acuity improved after 26 treatments of vision therapy.
This is just a small example of the small miracles we have seen through the years. We are only part of Kali’s recovery.
When I speak with Kali’s mother, the journey has been long, and she is currently in the process of writing a book about this experience. Linda was a special education teacher prior to Kali’s accident, but she gave up her job so she could devote her time to help Kali with her therapies.
Knowing you are not alone when faced with the challenges Kali and Linda have gone through, placing all your trust in God when you are weak takes strength…“My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.– 2 Corinthians 12:9
Through the years, Linda utilized support groups she found locally and through social media. I am passing along her information as well as information other patients have shared, in hopes of helping other people who are faced with similar brain related vision problems.
by Kathy Humphrey, Optometric Vision Therapist
Local Support Groups:
Dizziness and Balance Support Group of Buffalo & Western New York
Concussion/Traumatic Brain Injury Support Group
3980 Sheridan Drive, Amherst, NY 14226
Phone: (716) 250-2000
WNY Migraine and Headache Disorder Support Group
Web pages for vision symptoms after a brain injury:
- www.covd.org (College of Optometrist in Vision Development)
- www.nora.cc (Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association)