My vision continues to be playing a big part in my ability to rehab from my TBI. I have trouble focusing which leads to dizziness. Dizziness and eye fatigue also lead to double vision quite often. Not to mention an increase in the intensity of my ever-present headache.
Earlier Eye Exercises
Throughout this journey, I have been prescribed a wide variety of eye exercises. Most of which I despise. Either because they are mind-numbingly boring or I just don’t see myself improving at all with them.
I did the brock string, which is a pretty typical eye therapy exercise where you move your eyes from one bead to the other and back again. Trying to keep the focus as you do so.
My neuroopthomologist suggested a computer program, which we do have. Unfortunately, my lack of depth perception keeps me from using that.
The most recent addition by the neuro-ophthalmologist is to put a cotton ball on a plate. Tilt the plate back and forth and try to follow the cotton ball with my eyes. As I practice more, I can move to put an object on the plate that will move faster, like a marble.
Recently Added At PT
Recently at PT, we have added throwing all ball back and forth. I have to catch it out in front of my body. As we practice he will make them increasingly harder for me to be able to catch ( eye-tracking training as well as the focus).
Also, as I do my other physical exercises at PT, I’m trying to force my self to keep my eyes open some of the time. It is amazing everything I can do with my eyes closed! When I open my eyes and try and continue with an exercise it totally throws me off. It is like my eyes have too much to look at and don’t know how or what to focus on. Which leads to the usual bad symptoms. I realize that this an area that I need to gain more tolerance, and I’m trying hard to work on it.
New Addition- YouTube Videos
The newest addition to my rehab is watching “first-person” videos. In other words, videos of someone doing something from their perspective. In other words, the main thing(issue) for me, a TBI patient with vision problems, is that things are “coming at me”. They come at me too fast for my eyes to process. At least right now they do. I’m still working at it!
What Do I Watch?
When I heard the mention of watching videos on youtube and the type of videos he wanted me to watch, I knew immediately exactly what I would try to find on Youtube!
I watch videos of horses jumping cross country courses. The sound of the horse’s hooves hitting the ground as they gallop, as well as the rhythm of their breath as they run, is so familiar to me. Even after all this time not being on a horse, these things just never left me!
The amazing thing about this is that because of that familiarity, when I start getting dizzy or my eyes go crazy on me, I can close my eyes and focus on the horses hooves and breathing. Whether I’m sitting down watching or standing at my walker. I can close my eyes and focus on those familiar noises settle my symptoms down. It is something my body knows so well, that I can close my eyes and this will get me grounded again. It stops the dizziness pretty quickly. If I’m standing up I still feel like I have to clench the walker for balance. At least I have found a way to help my body not overreact to the stimulus.
Stimulus And Tolerance Level
Healing from TBI is all about teaching your body how to respond appropriately again to life. Instead of being in overprotective mode, which is what makes us feel stuck in our progress. It is natural for our bodies to want to protect us. It is just one of the many things that our bodies do on an unconscious level, out of self-preservation.
By increasing things that are our triggers, and slowly gaining tolerance to them. It is helping us to retrain our brains that even though there was a time when we needed the overprotectiveness, now we are ready to work on tolerance. Meaning we are going to put ourselves in these uncomfortable positions a little at a time until our body can handle them again.
Finally, An Eye Exercise That Isn’t Boring!
I believe that if you are a TBI patient who is experiencing symptoms similar to mine I would highly recommend you try the Youtube video thing. You can start out sitting down, or sit down on bad days and then work your way up to being able to do it standing and stay balanced.
I Know, Not Everyone Likes Horses
Not everyone likes horses, I got that! You can find first-person videos of practically anything you can imagine. From someone riding a bike through a city street to a hiker in the mountains to someone scuba diving. If it is something that a person can strap a camera to themselves as they do it, there is probably a video of it somewhere out there online. You can watch whatever interests you, even watching a variety of different things.
I’m telling you this is the only vision exercise I have done that I haven’t hated.
Your Brain Is Playing Tricks On Your Body, At Least Mine Is!
By watching the videos and trying to work on my exercises, I definitely realize how much my brain plays tricks on my body. It is cool though that the familiarity of the horses helps get me through the eye trouble. It doesn’t stop it( not yet) but it gives me a way to recenter, refocus and get my eyes back to their baseline again. Without having to completely stop the exercises or getting extreme symptoms like nausea.
Like everything else with TBI, you will have good days and bad days with this as you go. Let me tell you though, on bad days you are a lot more likely to get me to watch a bunch of horse videos than you are starring at beads on a string or a cotton ball on a plate!
If You Are A TBI Patient With Vision Issues You Should Try This!
This is definitely worth a try for you! Even if it can’t replace the other boring stuff, it is one fun eye exercise to look forward to!
Keep on Keepin’ On!