Post Concussion Syndrome
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? Parents of these children are stepping forward to share their experiences with the hope of helping others.
“Research has shown that approximately 70% of young athletes who suffer a concussion have eye coordination, focusing, and eye movement problems1. Yet most parents are left on their own choose a health care professional who can help their child correct these problems,” shares Dr. Kara Heying, OD, FCOVD, President of College of Optometrists in Vision Development.
Evyn of Tulsa, Oklahoma had struggled for two years after suffering a concussion at the age of 13, sustained while playing soccer. She saw twelve physicians and specialists, including her pediatrician, two ophthalmologists, a neuro-ophthalmologist, a neurologist, and a sports medicine doctor before an optometrist finally referred her to a developmental optometrist.
According to her mother, Ronda Fitzgerald, “Before the concussion, school was easy for Evyn and she had excellent grades. After the concussion, Evyn continued to receive good grades in school, but it was very difficult. She spent forever on homework, reading and re-reading. She was now one of the last students to complete tests at school, and she had headaches all the time. It was extremely difficult for Evyn to take notes from the board.”
It turns out her concussion had caused an eye coordination disorder known as convergence insufficiency which can cause double vision, among a variety of other visual disturbances that interfere with reading. Her mother further explains, “I did not know the depth of Evyn’s problems. I knew she saw spots in her vision constantly, but I did not know she had double vision and I did not know her eyes did not work well together.”
After completing an office-based optometric vision therapy program, Mrs. Fitzgerald shares, “I am happy to say that Evyn no longer has double vision or tracking and focusing problems – her eyes are working together. I wish we would have been told about the testing and treatment right after Evyn was injured. Unfortunately, she had to struggle through more than 2 years with double vision, headaches and more.”