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Concussion: Parents Speak Out About The Visual Link To Recovery

Will Smith’s new movie “Concussion” is likely to make parents think twice about having their children involved in contact sports like football and soccer.

But what about kids who have already suffered a concussion and are struggling to get back to learning?

Research has shown that approximately 70% of young athletes who suffer a concussion have eye coordination, focusing and eye movement problems.(1) Yet most parents are left on their own to choose a health care professional who can help correct their problems.

Alyssa’s Story

Alyssa of Cassville, MO received a concussion at indoor soccer practice in January 2014. She had run head first into a concrete wall. She started developing bad headaches and nausea. An exam and CAT scan were negative and she was diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome. Alyssa continued with headaches daily, fatigue, nausea, light sensitivity, and inability to focus or even remember spoken commands. She was referred to a neurologist who they visited weekly all of February and March with little improvement. She was then referred to a cranial-sacral osteopath where she received some relief. She was then referred to Dr. Scott for a vision evaluation and therapy. Alyssa was still not able to read well as any attempt to do so caused severe headaches. Headaches were also triggered by fluorescent lights, movement and too much activity. The family was living in darkness to accommodate her light sensitivity.

Alyssa was very frustrated. She had been a 4.2-4.0 student in advanced classes, captain of the soccer team and in the color guard. Now, she could hardly read a book!

Dr. Scott found that she had double vision and focusing problems. She prescribed glasses that helped Alyssa to read for 1 hour at a time. Her headaches decreased. She then began vision therapy to help improve even further. She worked on her therapy over the summer and was able to return to school her senior year.

Raising Awareness And Improving Lives

Players who are subjected to more than one concussion, especially in the same game, can be much more impaired. These kids need visual help to be able to function, using special glasses and vision therapy.

Pro football player, Antwaan Randel El, who played in two Super Bowls and was in the NFL for 9 years is now suffering memory loss at the age of 36. He stated: “It isn’t worth it”.

There is now more “Return to Play” testing to keep kids from re-entering a game who have had a suspected concussion. Still, kids want to play anyway and often won’t admit they are having any problems. Concussion sideline testing should be available to any team. There is a very inexpensive test called the “King-Devick Eye Movement Test” that is very inexpensive and very sensitive to detecting concussions.

If you or your child suffer from a concussion or head injury you can find an optometrist who specializes in rehabilitation at

(1) Master, C.L., Scheiman, M, Gallay, M, Goodman, A, Robinson, R.L., Master, S. R, Grady, M. F. Vision Diagnoses are common after concussion in adolescents, Clinical Pediatrics, July 2015