Vision Therapy for Brain Injury & Head Injury Rehabilitation
Vision is a product of the dynamic relationship between the eyes and the brain. 70% of the sensory input to the brain is vision-related, and visual information is processed in every lobe of the brain. The eyes, direct extensions of the brain made from the same neuro-sensory tissue, gather and send information to the brain for interpretation to direct thought and action.
Because of this close interaction of the eyes and brain to create vision, individuals suffering from injury to the head often have vision disturbances. These visual disturbances can greatly impact their quality of life. In fact, 80-85% of our perception, learning, cognition and activities are mediated through vision.
Vision therapy (called neuro-optometric rehabilitation in case of brain injury) helps treat the effects of brain injury and teaches the injured brain new ways to compensate for vision problems. The result is a natural and sustainable treatment that may allow those affected by brain injury to reclaim some or most of their visual function.
The Importance of a Well-Qualified Neuro-Optometrist
Specialization in neuro-optometric rehabilitation is a rarity. Since rebuilding functions in the brain must be handled delicately, rigorous study and practice in the field are necessary to achieve some level of success.
The Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA) inducted Dr. Briana Larson as a Fellow (FNORA) during its 2014 Annual Conference at North Carolina. A Fellow of the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (FNORA) designation is recognition of a professional’s highest level of competence in clinical abilities and scientific knowledge in the field of Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation.
Currently, there are only fifteen (15) FNORA professionals in the United States. Dr. Larson is the lone practicing optometrist in Texas with an FNORA credential.
Prominence of Vision Problems Related to Brain Injury
Concussions and other head injuries are not uncommon in the United States, where athletic ability and military service are prized. Dangerous occupations and the freedom to explore extreme sports leave us vulnerable to different kinds of head injury.
Symptoms of Vision Problems Caused by Head and Brain Injury
Varying degrees of injuries to the head can affect vision, including, but not limited to:
- Traumatic Brain Injury– motor vehicle or pedestrian accidents, falls, assaults, blast/combat-injury
- Non-Traumatic Brain Injury– stroke, infection, tumor
- Neurological Conditions– multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease
Visual problems commonly follow head injury. More than 50% of individuals suffering from neurological damage have visual and visual- cognitive disorders. In addition, visual-perceptual dysfunction is one of the most common devastating residual impairments of head injury. Vision-related signs and symptoms associated with neurological damage include:
Direct Vision Problems
- Double vision
- Eye turns
- Blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Frequent nausea and dizziness
- Frequent headaches
- Inclination to motion sickness
- Sore or irritated eyes during reading or computer use
- Dry or watery eyes
- Reduced reading comprehension
- Decreased memory and attention
- Loss of place when reading
- Poor balance or posture
- Loss of side vision
- Reduced coordination
- Fatigue during reading or computer use
- Intolerance to crowded places or loud noises
- Bumping into objects
- Walking only on one-side of a hallway
Visual disorders interfering with the healing and rehabilitative process often go undetected and misdiagnosed by standard eye exams that show normal eyesight and eye health.
Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation (Vision Therapy) at OCVT
Vision therapy after brain injury is highly involved. Your neuro-optometric evaluations at the Optometry Center for Vision Therapy (OCVT) go far beyond standard eyesight and eye health exams. To uncover the entirety of your condition and rehabilitative needs, your OCVT doctor will evaluate the following:
- Near and distant acuity
- Refractive status (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism)
- Depth perception
- Color vision
Eye & Brain Coordination
- Eye focusing, tracking, and teaming
- Light and contrast sensitivity
- Neurological pathway integrity
- Peripheral vision
- Visual memory
- Visual attention
- Spatial awareness
- Visual motor integration & coordination
- Visual auditory integration
- Processing speed
- Reading fluency, speed, comprehension
- Balance and posture
The goal of your neuro-optometric rehabilitation treatment program is to eliminate visual-related signs and symptoms, advance the outcome of other rehabilitative services, and improve quality of life. Concluding your neuro-optometric rehabilitation evaluations at OCVT, your doctor will administer a consultation with you to discuss all test results and treatment recommendations. Your treatment program may include specialized lenses, filters, prisms, vision therapy , and referrals to other specialists.
How Do I Schedule an Appointment for Vision Therapy after Concussions and Head Injuries?
Come into the location nearest you or call during our office hours to talk with us directly, or feel free to send us an email with your name, contact information, and a short message about your concussion and vision therapy concerns.
You can also reach us anytime by filling out the contact form on our Contact Us page. We encourage you to complete a thorough exam at OCVT following any brain injury, whether a visual condition is apparent or not. We’re waiting at your nearest location to help you begin your treatment as soon as possible!