"As a parent it was hard for me to hear that his eyes weren't working together because I thought I should have recognized that right off the bat. Thank you Dr. Kristen for helping me know that it was ok and that I probably wouldn't have ever been able to tell just by looking at Joshua. Thank you for giving him his confidence back. Watching him change has been amazing, almost helped him to become a better person. From him volunteering to read in class, to the reading group he is in where they have seen his reading improving, to having better coordination in gym class. The one that I got to personally see was when he was finally able to hit the baseball. He had gone all year not being able to make contact. He always told me he had never even seen the ball coming in. So in his very last game of the year he hit the ball and it flew. I always knew with his size that once he made contact it would really go. To see the joy on his face to know that he had did it. He came to me after he ran the bases and he was so happy. He said "mommy my eyes worked together and I saw it, what Miss Kristen is doing with me is helping" (and that was only 6-8 weeks in)."
Living with a teenager as they go through regular hormonal growth changes is one thing you prepare for as a parent but adding a teenager suffering from a concussion only compounds the emotional and physiological trauma. A trauma no one truly understands became no one concussion patient is the same and no one set of treatment is the same for everyone. “Headaches, head pressure, dizziness, double blurred vision, peripheral vision challenges, extremely bothered by lights and noise, feeling fatigued and sluggish, concentration challenges, feeling confused, feeling overstimulated, memory loss, depressed, unsure of yourself, feeing like a disappointment to yourself and to others, withdrawal from regularly loved activities, withdrawing from friend groups, feeling antisocial, needing a nap in the middle of the day, feeling down and just not feeling right………”, are just a few of the symptoms and challenges that life after a concussion has added to a once happy normal teenager and has managed to turn her life completely upside down.
The past two years have been especially difficult as a parent and as a family living with a family member who has suffered a traumatic brain injury; because you live their pain, their sadness, their tears, their un-well feelings, their ups and downs and emotional moods, their feelings of self-doubt and the million times they question what they could have done different to prevent the accident. As a parent it leaves you completely helpless because this is something you have no control over, and one of those things that you just cannot fix.
As a family we are grateful to the dedicated and professional team at Saugeen Shores Vision Therapy, Dr. Kristen and Jackie who professionally took over the care of our daughter Cydney for post-concussion treatments and made her feel like part of the family on day one. Vison Therapy has proven to be very beneficial to concussion patients experiencing vision challenges and together, they have worked hard to see great progress in areas. It has been an extremely long road with many ups and downs and highs and lows but as every patient and every treatment plan is different, we are confident there will be more success ahead, so we look forward to seeing this through to the end.
I shared this with my daughter recently, ‘Those in your age group who didn’t experience a life altering trauma has an advantage over you. Your brain was focused on surviving while they were free to develop and grow. You might feel like you are behind, but it’s because you were doing your best to survive”.
Concussion can be extremely scary and overwhelming so if you know someone or have a family member suffering from a traumatic brain injury, be patient, be kind, be understanding! It’s not the life they planned, they are just doing their best to survive!
"My child was consistently frustrated when we started to learn to read and we realized there was something there that we couldn't put our finger on. As a parent, it was also frustrating since I could not see where the problem lied and therefore had no path to fix it. An occupational therapist recommended vision therapy to us and I honestly had some doubts since I had not heard much about it.
After completing the assessment process with Dr. Robinson it became apparent that my child could benefit from vision therapy. It was a relief to finally have an answer, an explanation, and a plan to assist him. Also, the vision therapy won't just help him with his reading at a young age, but I can see him benefiting all through his education and future careers.
Half way through his sessions now and I can see a drastic change. He has fun working with Katie and doing homework since it caters to his age, turning it into races and games, not even realizing he is practicing his therapy. I can see a better focus at school, growth in confidence, and a willingness to learn since he is no longer frustrated. I am so thankful that we have found vision therapy at Saugeen Shores Vision Therapy Centre."
"I cannot say enough good things... As the result of a concussion, I had been unable to read, concentrate, or drive for long periods and suffered from dizziness, nausea and headaches daily. After testing with Dr. Robinson and Katie, I felt relieved to learn that vision therapy could help my eyes to function as a team again, so that my symptoms would be alleviated. The team of Dr. Robinson and Katie has supported me and made me feel excited and motivated to do the therapy homework. I have seen massive gains and look forward to completing my therapy and getting back to normal. If you have suffered a concussion or have a child who is underperforming in school, then making an appointment for a vision assessment is an absolute must. You can be sure you will be supported on the path to visual excellence."
"Our daughter has always had learning challenges at school, to us this was evident right away in Junior Kindergarten. We've worked extensively with teachers and reading programs. It wasn't until Grade 5 when our daughter started mentioning the words "popping off the page and words disappearing at the beginning and ending of lines" that we decided to come and see Dr. Robinson. As we described it to our daughter, her brain and eyes weren't working together as one unit. Over the next 20 or so weeks we met with Katie for 1 hour/week learning fun new games and exercises. The exercises at home were simple and only took 20 minutes. Our daughter enjoyed all the games and we even got her brothers playing, trying to make it a family fun time and to give her brothers an idea how hard she had to work during the exercises so they could then give her positive encouragement along the way. As the weeks went by we noticed that our daughters reading fluency started to improve. She could start to read words continuously instead of having to reread things over, or sound every letter out to figure out what the word said. The words stopped popping off the page and they no longer drop off at the beginning or ending of lines. Her reading continues to improve and the fluidity of her reading does as well. Non academically our daughter has improved as well. She's a fairly sporty little girl and is a goalie. Her puck tracking ability has improved. When watching her eyes and head move, they track the puck much better now, much more deliberate, instead of just being in the right spot at the right time. She can also now catch the puck. Baseball has improved too. Our daughter has played ball since she was 4 and very rarely could she ever catch every ball that comes her way and she can now, as well as hit the ball. Our daughter enjoyed every minute with Katie and Dr. Robinson, she looked forward to every appointment. They made the entire experience fun and kept our daughter engaged to try more and do better each time she was there. Their positive reinforcement, patience and understanding made the 20 weeks go by quickly. She's liked it so much that she still gets out the computer to do the reading and ping pong games. Thank you for all that you have helped Parker with, you have no idea how much that means to her dad and I as parents."
"Your work with Emma has transformed her life and given her a new perspective of life. We spent a very happy celebration afternoon at the Williamsford Mill where she was amazed at a whole three floors of books. Thank you for the exceptional work you do - it means more to Emma, her family, and her future than I can say."
What I learned about recovering from a concussion.
Be kind and patient with yourself. Measure success on your terms. For me this meant allowing more time to meet a goal than I would ever have considered pre concussion. It takes longer to learn when you have a brain injury. Some goals were measured over periods of months or year to year. I accepted that it was more helpful to take 6 months rather than give up once there was no change after a couple of weeks.
Practice vision therapy everyday. It may only be 5 minutes a day. It’s not the amount of time per interval, but the consecutive cumulation of all your work that will help you improve.
Set a safe mental and emotional place to identify your triggers. Then create strategies to help you recognize and cope with them. Your behaviour may be different from your usual self. It’s okay and temporary. Develop strategies that are safe for you and helps others understand what is happening to you.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a workplace or school accommodation; advocate for yourself. Consider it a tool in your rehab tool box.