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Success Stories, Processing Disorders

Brain Glasses Quiet Headaches, Put Her Back in School Band

Mom Calls Mind-Eye Institute a ‘Godsend’ in Her Daughter’s Recovery

Can a pair of eyeglasses mitigate migraines, improve depth perception, calm motion sickness, and get a person back into the school band? If you are 17-year-old Courtney Chaplin from the state of Georgia, the answers are yes, yes, yes, and yes.

And she credits the Mind-Eye Institute of Northbrook, Ill. and her Mind-Eye optometrist for bringing her the relief that she has so struggled to find starting as early as 7 years old. “My only wish is that more people in need of help were aware of the work going on at Mind-Eye. What the Institute is accomplishing is profoundly important,” Courtney says.

Courtney’s mother, Susan Chaplin, agrees. “I give Mind-Eye my highest recommendation. The gift of watching your child improve and being able to function again has been wonderful. We have been coming to the Institute for about a year now, and Courtney’s progress has been amazing.”

Under the direction of its founder and research director Deborah Zelinsky, OD, the Mind-Eye team has achieved worldwide recognition for the use of therapeutic eyeglasses, lenses, prisms, and filters to vary the amount, intensity and angle of light that passes through the retina. The retina is part of the central nervous system and the primary portal through which information enters the brain in the form of light-generated electrical signals.

By manipulating light, the Institute staff has often lessened symptoms and restored comfort to patients needing to rebuild visual processing skills compromised by brain injury, stroke, and other neurological disorders. The unique optometric testing and approach Dr. Zelinsky teaches at the Mind-Eye Institute also have prompted new processing capabilities in patients with attention and other learning deficiencies.

Courtney’s cascade of symptoms actually began when she was an infant, having been born with an underlying medical condition, later compounded by a severe concussion at 18 months of age. As she got older, so many things started going wrong — the headaches, severe light and sound sensitivities, motion sickness (“We really could not take her far in the car,” her mother recalls), eyesight problems, chronic joint pain, nausea, and lack of spatial judgment — that “I did not even realize I had problems,” Courtney says. “I did not know what feeling normal was. I just coped.”

She remembers how difficult it was just “sitting in the dark watching a movie on a bright screen and trying to listen to it. That was painful.”

“Courtney would never complain,” her mother, Susan Chaplin, explains. “Doctors would give her medications for the headaches, but I was unaware of her other issues like the joint pain when she was younger. The problems became much more apparent as Courtney was preparing to enter high school.”

“I remember waking up one morning while I was still in middle school and not being able to see; everything was blurry,” Courtney remembers. “We went to a local optometrist, and he prescribed me bifocals, and I was only 12 years old.” “Yes, I thought it highly unusual that someone as young as Courtney would need bifocals, especially since no one else in the family even wore glasses,” Susan says.

Meanwhile, not only was Courtney’s eyesight deteriorating, but her headaches were becoming increasingly intolerable and her light and sound sensitivities more acute – so much so that Courtney dropped out of her high school band where she enjoyed playing marimba.

“Along with everything else, Courtney would sometimes cry for no reason, seemed confused at times and had difficulties reading and keeping up with schoolwork,” Susan says. “At the height of her symptoms, my husband quit his job so that he could take Courtney to all her doctor appointments.”

During all these struggles, no one seemed able to help Courtney. That is until her mother turned to the Internet and learned about The Ghost in My Brain, the book that has proven life-altering for an untold number of patients who have suffered concussions, traumatic brain injuries, strokes, and other neurological disorders. Written by Clark Elliott, Ph.D., academician at DePaul University Chicago, The Ghost in My Brain details the author’s own successful, two-year journey to recovery following a severe traumatic brain injury sustained in a car crash. His search ended in appointments with Deborah Zelinsky, OD and with cognitive restructuring specialist Donalee Markus, PhD, of Designs for Strong Minds in Highland Park, Ill.

“After reading the book, I contacted the Mind-Eye Institute immediately,” Susan says. “That truly was the beginning of the road to getting Courtney functional again.”

At the Mind-Eye, Dr. Zelinsky explained to the Chaplin’s how Courtney’s post-concussive symptoms had required her brain to work constantly overtime just to process information from the world around her. They prescribed brain glasses to improve her visual processing skills.

Today, about a year following her first Mind-Eye visit, Courtney is back in the school band, no longer suffering the kind of nausea that made car trips unbearable, reading more readily, and doing well at school.

“Initially, I was unaware how much the [Mind-Eye] glasses were helping me, until one day I was standing in the kitchen when my mom started washing dishes. In the past, the noise from dishes clattering and water running would force me to run out of the room. With my glasses on, I realized I was not running out. I was able to tolerate the sound,” Courtney relates.

Although Courtney is not entirely devoid of symptoms – “She still has some light sensitivity, for example, especially to the light coming off a computer monitor,” Susan says — both she and her mother agree that Courtney is on her way toward the goal of feeling – and being – normal. “She is even able to drive now,” Susan states.

“The Mind-Eye Institute truly has been a godsend,” Susan adds. “If I could hug them, I would.”