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Media, Success Stories, Traumatic Brain Injury

Mind-Eye Helps Concussion Patient Regain ‘Piece of Myself’

She Says Therapeutic Eyeglasses Played ‘Crucial’ Role in Her Recovery

Overcoming Challenges with Mind-Eye Institute's Innovative Approach

She could not cook because she was unable to follow a recipe. She left post-it notes all over the house to help her follow through with day-to-day tasks. She missed weddings, funerals, and other important events. She could not drive, lost her directional capabilities, misread wording on signs, and could no longer engage in one of her favorite activities – dancing.

But, for Susan Himes of Texas, her life of seemingly insurmountable challenges changed -- for the better -- thanks to the science applied by the team at the Mind-Eye Institute in Northbrook, Illinois. “I am starting to feel somewhat normal again for the first time since my accident,” Susan says. “The Mind-Eye Institute has been critical to my recovery. Dr. Zelinsky and her staff have given me back a piece of myself.”

The “accident” occurred in May 2019 when Susan’s head struck a pole, causing a concussion and a subsequent loss of consciousness that lead to a fall. The fall resulted in brain bleeds in three different regions of her brain. The “Dr. Zelinsky” to whom she refers is world-renowned optometrist Deborah Zelinsky OD, who is founder and executive director of research for the Mind-Eye Institute.

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Groundbreaking Work in Retinal Processing with Dr. Zelinsky and the Mind-Eye Institute

Dr. Zelinsky is recognized globally for her studies of retinal processing. The retina is composed of brain tissue and serves as a vital component of the central nervous system. Environmental signals (in the form of light) enter the retina and convert to electrical signals, which propagate through neurons and interact with key brain structures. These retinal signals affect not only the visual cortex but other, significant regions of the brain as well.

“Optical interventions, including highly individualized therapeutic eyeglass lenses, can selectively stimulate retinal activity, thereby influencing retinal processing and brain function and re-integrating a person’s sensory inputs, especially eyes and ears,” Dr. Zelinsky says.

The Mind-Eye team’s use of filters, lenses and prisms in glasses alters the way in which light disperses across the retina. Changes in luminance on the eye affect how the brain interprets and reacts to information about the environment and can impact a person’s spatial awareness, body movement and selective attention to sound.

With Mind-Eye Brainwear™, a reference to specialized eyeglasses, Mind-Eye optometrists are often able to maximize patients’ visual performance; improve perceptions of their world; mitigate some symptoms due to brain injury, concussion, stroke, auditory/visual imbalances, retinal processing dysfunction, and other neurological disorders; and even help develop missing visual skills found in learning problems related to autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and similar challenges.

The Transformation Impact of Therapeutic Glasses

Susan agrees. In fact, she says she was brought to tears during a recent Mind-Eye appointment when Dr. Zelinsky told her she no longer needed Mind-Eye glasses. “I am not normally a person who cries but I was not expecting that,” says Susan, who still will continue wearing Mind-Eye contact lenses. “It was the first time in almost four years [of care at Mind-Eye] that I was told I no longer need [therapeutic] glasses.”

Indeed, Susan is elated just to have regained the ability to do the everyday tasks and activities that the average individual does without conscious thinking as part of daily life.  “I can drive again. Vehicles moving across the right side of my peripheral eyesight no longer startle me,” she states. “I can watch television and listen to the radio, process what people are saying to me, and respond. I am able easily to read a book from start to finish, and the change in my ability to focus is amazing.” Most importantly, “my sense of self has improved.”

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“I can drive again... I can watch television and listen to the radio, process what people are saying to me, and respond. I am able easily to read a book from start to finish, and the change in my ability to focus is amazing.” Most importantly, “my sense of self has improved.”

- Patient, Susan Himes

Susan’s Health Odyssey and Renewed Hope

Susan’s health odyssey began just a couple of days after striking her head on a pole. “I began feeling nauseous and went to a hospital emergency room where I was diagnosed as having a concussion,” she relates. But nausea proved the least of her problems as other symptoms developed and became progressively worse.

“I was a writer, a public relations and media relations professional for a major university system in Texas, but, after the accident, I was having difficulty just focusing and concentrating. I could no longer work in an office setting or manage in-person attendance at work-related meetings because they were too noisy, and I could not process what other people were saying. And, to make matters worse, I was unable to drive to work-related events where I normally would interact with the news media,” she says.

“I had cognitive problems, memory problems, visual problems, sensory processing issues. I sometimes was unable to find the right word when talking, and, at one point, I had to go to physical therapy because I forgot how to swing my arms when I walked, and I could not stand on one leg or jump without falling down” Susan recalls. “I had a hard time paying attention to anything.” 

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“I had cognitive problems, memory problems, visual problems, sensory processing issues.

I sometimes was unable to find the right word when talking, and, at one point, I had to go to physical therapy because I forgot how to swing my arms when I walked, and I could not stand on one leg or jump without falling down.

“I had a hard time paying attention to anything.”

TheGhostInMyBrain

Susan was developing a “sense of hopelessness,” unable to find solutions through the standard health care system. “Things were slipping away cognitively, physically, and emotionally, I had to do something. I was not ready to give up.”

So, she began doing online research and connected with a brain injury support group on Facebook. Through that group she learned about a book entitled The Ghost in My Brain, written by DePaul University professor Clark Elliott, Ph.D. In the book, Dr. Elliott details his eight years of struggles following a head injury in a car crash and describes how he found relief through Donalee Markus PhD, founder and president of Designs for Strong Minds in Highland Park, Illinois, and Dr. Zelinsky of the Mind-Eye Institute.

“Within 48 hours of finishing the book, I contacted the Mind-Eye Institute,” Susan says. “My first appointment was in early 2020, and I underwent what seemed to be a half day of testing.” At the end of it, “Dr. Zelinsky explained that we all have informational highways going through our brains, but some of them in mine had become dead ends or blocked due to the damage from my head injury. She said the goal would be to build new brain highways that would go around all the congestion in my head.”

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A Comprehensive Recovery: Cognitive Rehabilitation and Neuroplasticity

At Mind-Eye, “we are using the principles of advanced optometric science, including retinal stimulation with light, to modulate neural circuits in our patients,” Dr. Zelinsky explains. “Changes in how the retina processes environmental signals – both image-forming and non-image-forming – through variations in the way light passes through it influence both physical and mental health.” 

Susan credits her Mind-Eye glasses for the leaps she has made in her recovery. Also effective, she says, have been online vision rehabilitation with one of the Mind-Eye staff members; a brain puzzle app developed by Dr. Donalee Markus, a noted expert in cognitive rehabilitation and neuroplasticity (the concept of the brain being able to change and adapt); and physical and occupational therapy.

“For the first time in years, I am feeling almost normal again, thanks to professionals like Dr. Zelinsky and the team at Mind-Eye,” Susan says.

Although Susan Himes reports progressive symptom relief, her experience is not always the norm, nor is it guaranteed for every patient. Check out the Mind-Eye Institute at www.mindeye.com for additional information.