Ironman Athlete Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Comment Strengthens Patient’s Resolve to ‘Get My Life Back Together’
“The same blood coursing through your toes goes to your brain.”
That comment – from Mind-Eye Institute founder and executive director Deborah Zelinsky, OD – gave brain-injured patient Judson Paschen renewed hope and a determination “to get my life back together again,” physically and mentally.
Along the way, Judson, an Evanston, Ill. resident and now a personal fitness trainer, also discovered that, when it comes to brain health, cheaper is not always better.
Judson’s first pair of therapeutic eye glasses from the Mind-Eye Institute (https://www.mindeye.com) in Northbrook, Ill. worked. They gave him some relief from the visual processing symptoms plaguing him as a result of a serious traumatic brain injury. But then he decided to go what he calls a “cheaper route” for his next pair of glasses.
“Wrong decision,” says Judson.
“For two years, I stuck with the cheaper prescription that I was given by another doctor. During that time, I experienced re-emergence of all the bad things that had happened to me previously. I started leaning and falling to my right again, had balance issues, cognitive problems, fatigue,” Judson says.
“So, I went back to the Mind-Eye Institute, and the team there re-tested me and gave me a new prescription. When I put those glasses on, it was like a curtain had re-opened. I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, why did I ever leave here?’”
That’s because Mind-Eye optometric wear are not ordinary eye glasses. They are what Mind-Eye professionals refer to as Brainwear™ — therapeutic lenses precisely and individually designed to readjust a patient’s visual processing and eye-ear integration, explains Dr. Zelinsky. Essentially, the glasses help rewire the brain.
“By changing how light disperses across the retina using lenses, prisms and other optometric interventions, we can affect how the brain reacts to information about the environment and normalize a person’s spatial awareness, body movement and selective attention to sound,” says Dr. Zelinsky. She is internationally noted for her studies and clinical work on how alterations in light on the retina impacts brain function.
“Visual processing” refers to the ability of the brain (partially beneath a conscious level of awareness) to take in many external sensory signals – from eyesight, hearing, smell, taste and touch; synthesize the information; and then react and respond depending on internal sensory signals, Dr. Zelinsky says. “When intact, visual processing enables people to understand and respond appropriately to the world around them. If brain circuitry is out of sync because it has been disrupted – or, in the case, of younger children, perhaps under-developed — people can become confused about their surrounding environment.”
Symptoms due to visual processing disorders are often wide-ranging — from learning and attention problems, including an inability to read and concentrate, to problems with spatial awareness, social communication and interaction, constant stress, anxiousness, apathy, mood swings, even physical issues like headaches, dizziness, balance and nausea. These problems also can negatively impact other circuitry in the body, such as those involved with circadian rhythms, metabolism, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems.
Judson was initially referred to the Mind-Eye Institute by Donalee Markus, Ph.D.who founded Designs for Strong Minds™, headquartered in Highland Park, Ill. He had gone to see Dr. Markus for “cognitive re-structuring” – re-learning “to think and understand where I fit in society.” Dr. Markus suggested he also contact the Mind-Eye Institute for help with his visual processing issues.
Judson’s brain circuity definitely was out of sync after he struck a tree driving about 75 miles an hour while racing a friend. He was in his 30s at the time. When pulled from the car wreck, his state of consciousness registered near the bottom of the Glasgow Coma scale, which measures a person’s neurological alertness following a head injury.
He spent weeks in a medically induced coma at Evanston Hospital, now part of the NorthShore University HealthSystem. When he finally awoke, he discovered “my whole right side was locked, frozen. I had trouble talking, forming sentences. I remembered my children, where I went to college, but my short-term memory was a problem. Figuring out what happened to me proved a challenge.”
Judson’s vision had changed, too. “I experienced double vision; my eyes needed to be realigned.”
During months of rehabilitation, Judson “had to relearn everything again. I had to relearn how to use my right hand just to brush my teeth, how to walk again. I even had to learn how to laugh at a joke. I would watch cartoons with my children, and when they laughed, I thought I should laugh, too.”
Judson underwent comprehensive assessment at his first Mind-Eye appointment and was prescribed a first pair of “brain” glasses.
He recalls his initial Mind-Eye tests.
“I did horribly on the bell test,” Judson says, referring to Dr. Zelinsky’s patented Z-Bell Test℠. “I kept reaching out and missing the bell by a mile,” until Dr. Zelinsky found the right set of lenses that helped him connect directly with the source of the sound.
The Z-Bell Test℠ is a simple but revolutionary method of checking a patient’s overall sense of surrounding space and his or her integration of visual processing with awareness of auditory space.
“Light still passes through the eyelids and activates parts of the brain not used for eyesight. With eyes closed, patients are still having to visualize surrounding space in order to locate the bell,” Dr. Zelinsky explains.
The Mind-Eye Institute gave Judson both special eyeglasses and a renewed resolve.
Passionate about fitness and exercise even before the car crash – Judson is a former triathlete and ironman athlete, he obtained national certification as a personal fitness trainer and founded Fit4Life (www.fit4lifestrong.com). He now has been doing fitness training for more than 20 years, operating his own gym in Evanston and serving clients on the Chicago area’s North Shore and in downtown Chicago.
Although he does not run as much as he once did, Judson does enjoy biking. Best of all, with his new Mind-Eye glasses, he does not lean to one side anymore nor experience the fatigue from lenses that failed to balance his eyes and ears.
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