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Success Stories, Traumatic Brain Injury

‘Brain Glasses’ Turn His Desperation to Hope

A Nashville Book Fair Leads Matt to Mind-Eye Institute – And Relief

When Matthew Kimball of Nashville, Tenn. first contacted the Mind-Eye Institute, “I was in a bad place. I was desperate.”

Matt had been struggling with symptoms of traumatic brain injury for more than a decade due to a series of concussions, and his problems – bipolar depression; convulsions; post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD); nightmares; and reading, attention and motivation deficits – well, they were not getting any better.

But life took a sudden turn in the right direction for Matt at a book fair, no less, in downtown Nashville several years ago. He was in his late 20s at the time.

“I am just strolling around the fair with a girlfriend when suddenly a book title catches my eye — The Ghost in My Brain,” recalls Matt, who teaches junior-high and high-school level English courses. The book was published in 2015 and authored by DePaul University Chicago professor Clark Elliott PhD. In it, Dr. Elliott details his eight-year journey back to health following a traumatic brain injury from a car accident. He credits the efforts of two professionals – cognitive restructuring specialist, Donalee Markus PhD., of Designs for Strong Minds in Highland Park, Ill., and Deborah Zelinsky, OD, founder and research director of the Mine-Eye Institute in Northbrook, Ill.,– for his return to a normal life.

“As I am reading about Dr. Elliott’s experiences, I keep saying to myself, ‘That’s my experience, too, that’s my experience, too,” Matt says. He quickly contacted Mind-Eye (www.mindeye.com).

“I had no skepticism about what Mind-Eye could do for me – only hope – when I made the appointment to see Dr. Zelinsky.”

During his first visit to Mind-Eye, Matt underwent comprehensive testing of his eyes and visual processing, which showed his sensory integration – specifically, eyes and ears – were out of synchronization, says Dr. Zelinsky.

She explains that loss of sensory synchronization affects visual processing and may lead to multiple symptoms — vertigo, headaches, light and sound sensitivities, anxiousness and stress, attention and comprehension problems, an inability to read and interact normally in social situations, memory problems, a general feeling of being “out of body,” and/or dysregulated sleep cycles.

“Visual processing is what enables us to respond appropriately to changes in our surrounding environment,” Dr. Zelinsky says.

To resynchronize the senses, the Mind-Eye Institute team typically prescribes patients highly individualized, therapeutic “brain” glasses — Brainwear™ — that vary the angle, intensity and amount of light passing through the retina.

“By using ‘brain’ glasses to manipulate the way lights disperses across the retina, we can literally develop new informational signaling pathways in the brain,” Dr. Zelinsky says. “These new pathways circumvent damaged ‘communication’ lines and re-establish more normal signaling patterns between the retina, which serves as a window to the outside environment, and the brain. They also serve to resynchronize eyes, ears and other sensory systems and normalize visual processing, thereby restoring patients to a greater sense of balance – homeostasis. All this is possible because the brain is plastic; it is readily able to change at a cellular level, meaning it can adapt to new the pathways that ‘brain’ glasses help build.”

Matt remembers his first significant concussion while playing basketball in high school. “I fell on the court and another player’s hip came down on my head.” Following that injury came a steady decline in Matt’s psychological health, including self-harm behaviors and suicidal ideation. “At one point, I drove my car into a tree at 50 miles per hour.” It actually would be years later before a physician would diagnose Matt as having developed bipolar depression as a result of his head injury.

But Matt’s problems did not stop there. During the next few years, he would suffer nearly a half-dozen more concussions, including injuries sustained while playing flag football in college and coaching baseball at a sports camp.

After college, Matt secured a position as an English teacher for 7th-, 8th-, and 9th-grade students at his alma mater – Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville. Although effective in his career role, “my injuries started catching up with me. In my sixth year of teaching, I would come home and start experiencing what I call ‘convulsions’ that would last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and a half,” Matt says.

“Western medicine was providing me no help at the time. One general practitioner wanted to put me on anti-depressants, which I knew would not be good for me. I also saw a psychiatrist, who determined my concussions had damaged dopamine receptors in the brain; an endocrinologist; a PTSD specialist; and a doctor specializing in treatment of seizures. The seizure specialist put me on medication to control my nightmares, but the drug just caused me to pass out.”

Now nearing 30 years old, Matt was waiting for the calvary to arrive. It eventually did – in the form of the Mind-Eye team.

Since donning Mind-Eye “brain” glasses, Matt has returned to teaching and discovered relief on what he says are “all fronts.”

“The glasses have facilitated improvement with my convulsions and lessened some of my depressive and PTSD symptoms,” he says. “They also have taken away this pervasive internal discomfort I had been experiencing – a feeling of being frantic, sometimes nauseous, just wanting to crawl out of my skin.”

He recalls walking around downtown Chicago in the bright sunlight after first receiving his “brain” glasses and removing them to put on a pair of sunglasses. “Within 10 minutes, I felt my symptoms returning, so I immediately switched back to my Mind-Eye glasses,” Matt says

At age 32, Matt has been a patient with the Mind-Eye Institute for the past several years. He says he would recommend Dr. Zelinsky and the Mind-Eye team “in a heartbeat” to anyone suffering symptoms of traumatic brain injury or cognitive and attention deficits.

As for the future, “I need to be more careful [with my head]. Maybe, I should start wearing a helmet,” he laughs.