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BCTF Advantage
Teacher Magazine Volume 30, Number 4
March 2018

New treatment for concussions

By Allan Lee, BCTF Health and Wellness co-ordinator

“After three years of suffering, I finally found relief…”

Everything changed for Sally one Saturday when she was involved in a severe motor vehicle accident. The high-energy, dynamic teacher found herself experiencing post-concussion symptoms: sensitivity to light, difficulty with movement or moving objects, difficulty with reading, migraines, fogginess, nausea, dizziness, and balance problems. Despite support from a team of specialists, her challenges persisted. “It was embarrassing to wear sunglasses in my classroom…but I needed them because I was so sensitive to all types of light.” Even small tasks became difficult. “I couldn't work without earplugs because the noise in my classroom would make my head hurt…but every time a student had a question, I had to take them out to hear what they were saying.” After three years of suffering, she finally found relief from a new, developing area of neuro-optometry called vision therapy.

Developmental Co-ordination Disorder may arise when the visual system cannot calculate accurate co-ordinates, making motor co-ordination incredibly difficult. When the brain isn't processing depth and space properly, it affects the inner ear (vestibular system) and can throw one off balance, affect depth perception, and cause symptoms like dizziness, nausea, and difficulty in busy visual environments. If the brain isn't accurately controlling how the eyes move and work together, there can be problems with reading speed, comprehension, fatigue, sensitivity to light, headaches, and migraines. 

Vision therapy involves treatments to enable the brain to make new neurological pathways, somewhat akin to a software upgrade. Treatment may involve prescribing glasses in ways that improve efficiency, not just clarity, and/or a series of vision therapy treatments to retrain the brain. Vision therapy is also being used to treat eye movement conditions that may be interfering with reading and learning in children.

Resources
WorkSafeBC statistics at https://is.gd/poQbzN.
TEDx talk about vision therapy at https://is.gd/jru8KM.
BCTF Health and Wellness Program at bctf.ca/wellness.

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