Discovering Vision Therapy Blog

Vision Therapy and Syntonics Help Patient Recover from Brain Injury

Posted by Greg Mischio

Vision Therapy and Syntonics Help Patient Recover from Brain Injury

The following success story comes to us from Emily Baxter, who received vision therapy and syntonics treatment to help her recover from brain-related vision problems.

Vision therapy took me from being uncomfortable most of the day to being comfortable for most of the day doing many life activities I was not able to do before.

My quality of life is out-of-the-water compared to when I first started vision therapy.  The worth of this therapy is beyond measure.

I had pulmonary embolism with secondary anoxic brain injury about two years ago, and after over a year of physical therapy, speech therapy and some occupational therapy, I was much improved but not anywhere close to back to normal.  

I wanted to be able to actively recover – to do something to help my brain heal, but I did not know what to do.  Most people said there was nothing more I could do, but then my occupational therapist who had heard of Dr. Knueppel recommended vision therapy for me.  I am so thankful for that referral, because vision therapy has given back so much of my quality of life.

Others saw me as looking/seeming pretty normal a year after my cardiac arrest/brain injury, but I would still fatigue so easily and had such a hard time processing what I heard and saw.  My brain would shut down quickly to the point where I could not remember much of what I heard.  I could not read fluidly or comprehend text well, and I felt jumpy at anything that moved.  Even in a silent room, I would have to re-read sentences to comprehend them; and even then, I would forget much of what I read in a matter of a day or less so I would have to start over several times and take notes.

The more sensory stimulation in the form of noises or visual cues (especially moving objects), the faster my brain would fatigue and shut down.  It was hard to speak then because I had difficulty finding words because my brain was busy just being aware of the objects, people, and noises around me.

The world seemed to be always moving, and I did not know it then, but after having it corrected by syntonics and vision therapy, I realize I had to tunnel my vision to focus on anything.  The area surrounding what I was looking at would go dim so my brain could pool all its effort into processing the item of interest whether it was a word on a page, or the face of someone speaking to me.  

After just two weeks of syntonics, I felt my vision open up.  This made me so much more calm because I was so much more aware of the world around me, and my brain was more freed up to think about other things like speaking and listening.  That is when driving became so much easier.  
I was beyond happy to be able to see in a way I had not even remembered I could see before.  I did not even realize my vision was so limited and so tunneled until it wasn’t anymore!  It is truly an awesome gift to be able to take in so much of the picture at once!  I hope I never forget how I saw before vision therapy, because I never want to take my vision for granted.

Among many vision problems resulting from brain injury, I had convergence insufficiency.  Dr. Knueppel said my brain was not correctly telling my eyes where to look in space in order to focus on an object.  Many of the eye exercises assigned to me in vision therapy helped me with this issue, and everything I do is easier because of having done/doing those exercises.  

Over the past nine months of vision therapy, I have made tremendous progress in recovery and have been able to do things I am not sure I would have been able to do without having had the experience and benefits of vision therapy.  I am tearing up thinking about this because it means so much to me.  

My symptom changes that I noted at my first progress exam (about 3 months into vision therapy) included:

  • Less clumsy!
  • Less jumpy!
  • More aware of surroundings!
  • More comfortable driving
  • Can drive longer
  • Eyes are less itchy
  • Better reading comprehension (but still not great)
  • Reading time lengthened
  • Can handle much more stimulation
  • More comfortable in every environment
  • Greater endurance with everything I do –don’t need a nap! [after a year and a half of needing a nap every day since my pulmonary embolism]
  • Don’t need as much sleep at night (need 10 hours now as opposed to 12 hours I needed before)
  • Auditory processing has improved (I think because I have to listen less to my environmental noises/cues because I am visually more aware of my environment – and just a more recovered brain in general)

Three months later at my next progress exam, I reported two big milestones/accomplishments since the first progress exam:

  • Started working again – 4 hours/day, Monday-Friday, as a small group reading/math teacher. [I was a teacher when I had my brain injury.]  
  • Drove from Milwaukee to Madison by myself.  Longest drive time to date by far.  Felt ready to tackle this goal. Even did part of it in the dark.

Now three more months have gone by, and I still have a list of life-changing improvements to report to Dr. Knueppel:

  • I feel comfortable!  Not all the time, but I do feel it now!  Especially at home in the quiet.  I feel it in my eyes, head, and neck (not tense or hurting or stiff) and in my cognitive awareness.  I think I had a constant headache after brain injury but didn’t know it until I felt what it feels to feel comfortable.  
  • Unless really tired or overstimulated, driving is quite comfortable too now! (in daylight anyway – driving in the dark is still tricky for me)
  • Extraneous noises bother me a little less.
  • I feel much more comfortable in a restaurant trying to talk to people or in a store trying to pick out groceries.
  • I was able to teach two full days (subbing) this month! –also have subbed for an hour within my regular four hour day
  • Still have itchy, dry, burning eyes but now only at night/when tired instead of all the time and to a much smaller degree!
  • Able to read music better lately
  • Able to read more smoothly again!
  • Feel so much more independent now that I am able to do activities on my own that require cognitive endurance (like drive to work and back or to a friend’s house to visit).

Besides prescribing daily syntonics (light therapy), weekly office visits to learn eye exercises (to do daily at home) and in-house vision activities, Dr. Knueppel also helped me overcome the difficulties of brain injury-related vision problems by applying tape to part of the lenses of my glasses to eliminate some of the visual input (and thus cognitive stress of having to process it all).  This is called binasal occlusion because the tape occludes part of the visual field on either side of the nose.  

I am so glad Dr. Knueppel knew to do this, because it has helped me see better, think better, and overall function better for the last nine months.  I wear contacts just when I go swimming, and I get fatigued much more quickly because I do not have the binasal occlusion then.

I am grateful to the person who referred me to vision therapy and everyone at The Vision Therapy Center, from the welcoming receptionists to the dedicated therapists to the doctors themselves, especially Dr. Knueppel who knew more about me in my brain injured state than I did, and whose knowledge guided me to an incredibly better quality of life.  

A special shout-out to Beth who was my therapist for the majority of my weekly appointments and who helped me with difficult exercises and decisions and celebrated with me in all my improvements and accomplishments!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. My husband, family, friends, and employer also thank you for helping me get better.

To Prospective Patients:

I recommend vision therapy.  If you are wondering whether it is worth the cost, time, and energy—just do it and you will see in a very short time that the answer is yes.  After the whole process, you will probably feel indebted to the people at The Vision Therapy Center because the gift (of better functioning vision and the resulting increased quality of life) you receive from their efforts is so great.

 

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Topics: Success Stories, Vision Therapy, Syntonics