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Success Stories, Traumatic Brain Injury

10 Seconds Per Day Helps Alleviate 33 Years of Headaches

Mind-Eye Institute Returns Quality to Life of Chicago Area Resident

Not all stories have great endings, but Patricia Kavanaugh’s does. It simply required her to wear a pair of color-filtered, cardboard glasses for five seconds in the morning and evening.

“Five seconds twice a day? What will that do after 33 years of headaches?” asks Patricia, a registered nurse by profession and a resident of Lemont, Illinois. But she did as prescribed by optometrist Carla Adams, OD of the Mind-Eye Institute, and the effect was, well, “amazing.”

“The very next day, I am walking around normally again and no longer experiencing a headache,” says Patricia, who sustained a traumatic brain injury in a sledding accident several decades earlier. “Dr. Adams is the first professional who really listened to me. She made me comfortable and helped me readily understand how my symptoms were connected to my brain injury.”

The Northbrook, Illinois-based Mind-Eye Institute is recognized worldwide for its assessment of “visual processing” – namely, brain care rather than eye care. The term “visual processing” refers to the brain’s almost-instantaneous ability to take in external sensory signals (from eyesight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) and meld them with a person’s internal sensory signals. The brain then processes the combined information, allowing a person to react and respond to his or her environment.

“When intact, visual processing enables people to understand and interact appropriately with the world around them. If brain circuitry is out of sync because it has been disrupted by trauma, disease or is underdeveloped, people can become confused about their surrounding environment and exhibit inappropriate reactions and responses,” says optometrist Deborah Zelinsky, OD. Her studies of retinal stimulation have been described in publications and courses throughout the world. Dr. Zelinsky is founder and executive director of research at the Institute.

Dr. Adams explained to Patricia how the retina is composed of brain tissue and is part of the central nervous system.

“By changing the way light passes through the retina, we can affect how the brain reacts to information about the environment,” Dr. Adams says. “At the Mind-Eye Institute, our team develops or re-establishes patients’ visual processing capabilities by using therapeutic eyeglasses — ‘brain’ glasses — and other advanced mind-eye techniques to bend light in different ways. Depending on which mechanism we use, different receptors are activated.”

Patricia began suffering severe headaches shortly after her sled rammed into a brick wall and she awoke two days later in a hospital intensive care unit. “Nothing seemed to relieve the headaches,” says Patricia, who took over-the-counter pain relievers, placed wet washcloths on her forehead, and was told by physicians that nothing more could be done.

Time reportedly heals all wounds, but not in Patricia’s case. As the years passed, she started developing other symptoms as well.

“I became light-sensitive about seven years ago,” she says. “The light coming through the stained-glass windows in my church, for example, became so intense that I had to wear sunglasses in church.”

Other eyesight-related problems developed, balance issues started, even skin problems followed.

“My eyes started feeling scratchy as if there were sand underneath them. The orbits of my eyes hurt, and I had trouble reading. The last two letters of words would seem to disappear on a page. It would take me 15 minutes to read half a page, and then my eyes would get so tired I would have to close them. I was always an avid reader, but I was unable to read a book for about six years. I had to drop out of a book club,” Patricia recalls. “I also began experiencing dry mouth and swelling of my lips – to the point where I thought I might have some serious skin disorder, but doctors told me I had no skin disease.”

Meanwhile, worsening balance problems made it difficult for her to walk up and down hills or across uneven, “wavy” ground without holding onto someone for support. Walking at night also was a problem. “It was as if I had suffered a stroke. As I walked, I leaned to my left. I had to ask my husband to move our garden closer to the house, so I could work in it. The garden had been at the bottom of a hill, but I could no longer get down there by myself,” Patricia says.

Physicians whom Patricia contacted within the standard health care system were “sympathetic but were unable to provide much help. I was given drops for my eyes, but the medication did little to resolve my problems,” Patricia says.

It was while researching concussions and the treatment for them that Patricia saw a Facebook ad about the Mind-Eye Institute. She checked the Mind-Eye website, took the online patient test, and received a quick call from a Mind-Eye patient advocate. “He was excellent. I felt that if he were an example of the rest of the Mind-Eye staff, I could not go wrong arranging an appointment.”

Patricia underwent several hours of testing by the Mind-Eye team, including the Institute’s well known, patented Z-Bell Test℠, a simple, but revolutionary method of checking a patient’s overall integration of retinal processing with awareness of auditory space — basically, how stable is the eye-ear connection.

During the Z-Bell Test℠, a patient reaches out, with eyes closed, and tries touching a ringing bell. If the patient cannot do so, a Mind-Eye optometrist places different lenses, prisms, and filters in front of the patient’s closed eyelids until an optimal combination allows the patient to find the bell immediately without conscious effort. Light still passes through the eyelids and activates parts of the brain not used for eyesight. With eyes closed, patients must visualize surrounding space in order to locate the bell.

“I was missing the bell and missing the bell, until Dr. Adams placed the right combination of color filters over my eyes. They proved to be blue and green,” Patricia says. “Suddenly, I am hitting the bell.”

Since receiving her prescribed Mind-Eye “Brainwear” glasses, while continuing to wear her color-filter paper glasses for a matter of seconds each day – “I am up to 7 seconds now morning and evening,” Patricia has undergone a remarkable turnaround in her life.

“I can climb up and down hills like a goat, have read two entire books in the past month, no longer have dry mouth, can sit in the sunlight and not have to squint, and have experienced only one headache in the past month,” Patricia says. “I actually drove to Champaign, Illinois recently – a two-hour drive, and I did not have to stop and rest.”

Meanwhile, her eyesight clarity and memory also seem sharper. “I not only just see leaves on the tree, but I see the shapes of those leaves, too. And I can again remember people’s names.”

Patricia credits the Mind-Eye Institute for returning quality to her life. “I have not felt this good since I was a teenager,” she says.