Exercises can help speed recovery from vision-related concussion symptoms
Posted April 23
Updated April 24
Raleigh, N.C. — The long-term effects of concussions are getting more attention across the country and not just from professional athletes.
The parents of children involved in youth sports are more aware than ever of the risks that come with head injuries – and vision doctors in the Triangle are making them understand that dizziness and confusion aren't the only symptoms that can linger after a blow to the head.
"Not every concussion has a visual component, but most actually do," Michael Peters, an optometrist at Eye Care Associates in Raleigh, said.
Peters said some vision problems from concussions can resolve on their own, but sometimes they can linger for months or longer.
"What happens with a visual concussion is that the brain shuts down in that area and like a computer that reboots, it just doesn't reboot the right way," he said.
Ten-year-old Ian Turner suffered a concussion last fall during a Pop Warner football championship game.
"I threw it between my legs and the guy rammed into my head a couple of times," Turner said.
After the collision, Ian said he felt dizzy. He was also seeing double and having trouble with light sensitivity.
"Ian went up to his coaches and said that he wasn't feeling well," his mother Christi Turner said.
Soon after, Ian went to Eye Care Associates, where members of the Carolina Hurricanes are treated.
Peters used his visual concussion protocol – called See to Play – to help people suffering from long-term vision problems reboot their eyesight.
He developed different exercises, many of which can be practiced at home.
Ian wore special corrective glasses for a couple of months.
"My eyes started to hurt a little, but after a week or two, they felt normal," he said.
Christi Turner said there was plenty of motivation for Ian to work on the exercises to improve his vision.
"He knew the quicker he could recover the quicker he could get back out on the basketball court to be with his new team," she said.
Peters says that most visual side effects of concussions will resolve on their own, but the See to Play therapies can cut recovery times in half.