Patient’s Symptoms Due to Head Trauma – Not Mental Illness
Mind-Eye Institute Helps Kelly Get ‘Unstuck;’ Puts Her on Path to Relief
“I thought I was stuck for life with these problems – unable to focus, unable to remember, unable to have an organized thought, unable to do the things I like to do and be the mom I want to be. Then here is this woman, this doctor (optometrist), telling me, ‘No, no, your struggles are not permanent. We know what the problem is, and we can fix it.’”
Those words express the relief that 38-year-old Kelly Zalusky of Burbank, Ill. says she felt when optometrist Carla Adams, OD of the Mind-Eye Institute offered her the first true diagnosis of symptoms that had plagued her much of her life.
“Many doctors had told me for years that my problems were due to mental illness, but Dr. Adams said my symptoms were likely the result of a concussion or traumatic brain injury that I had incurred as a child,” Kelly says. “She told me, ‘Your brain is screaming. It is stuck in fight-or-flight mode and just keeps cycling and cycling Your body is on constant, high alert, and it is affecting how you perceive the world.’”
And, to think, Kelly had not considered contacting the Mind-Eye in Northbrook, Ill. when she first saw – and heard – ads about the Institute on YouTube and then Facebook. “How could a place like that and a pair of glasses help me?” she told herself, referring to the “brain” glasses — Brainwear™ — that the Mind-Eye team of optometrists prescribe following extensive testing of each patient. But she eventually became curious enough to check out the videotaped testimonials from Mind-Eye patients who described symptoms much like hers and who had found comfort and relief through wearing of “brain” glasses.
“Why not give it a try?” she started thinking. “Everybody – my family, my friends – were skeptical at first, thinking eyeglasses were not the solution to my problems, but I decided to go ahead anyway and make an appointment. That was in early 2020. It is probably one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
“BrainwearTM glasses are not eyeglasses for sharpening eyesight to 20/20 but for changing retinal processing,” says Deborah Zelinsky, OD, founder and executive director of research for the Mind-Eye Institute. “They work by bending light in different ways across the retina. The light triggers electrical signals that propagate through nerves. In fact, the retina helps route information through multiple brain pathways. Variance in light signals can create new brain signaling pathways that are uncorrupted by injury or disease or rebuild (or more often, circumvent) damaged ones, thereby enhancing a patient’s visual skills of spatial awareness and perception.”
Not at all surprising since scientists have long known the retina is composed of brain tissue and is part of the central nervous system, says Dr. Adams.
“At the Mind-Eye Institute, we recognize the critical role that the retina plays in brain activity and the importance of expanding on traditional eye tests for people with compromised brain function to evaluate their visual processing,” Dr. Zelinsky says.
When functioning normally, visual processing enables people to understand and interact appropriately to the world around them, Dr. Adams explains. When brain circuitry is disrupted due to injury or neurological disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, people become confused about their surrounding environment and exhibit inappropriate reactions and responses to movement, sounds and light.
Since childhood, Kelly had struggled with problems in concentrating, remembering things, and falling (and staying) asleep. School proved particularly challenging, one reason why Kelly says she was diagnosed with a learning disorder. “Studying was exhausting. I was always fatigued and frequently suffered migraine headaches,” she recalls.
As she got older, her symptoms became more acute.
“I could not relax. I was on edge all the time. My moods would fluctuate. Everything was either at zero or 100. I was sleeping only an hour or two every night,” To make matters worse, “I could not carry on a normal conversation. Sometimes, I would be looking directly at a person talking. I could see the lips moving but not really hear anything. On the flip side, I would hear words but not understand what they meant. How can you have a conversation when you cannot remember what was just said to you?”
Kelly also says she suffered from sensitivity to sound and light, struggled with reading and maintaining friendships, had difficulties interacting with her 7-year-old daughter, and experienced problems with balance.
“I was depressed, felt isolated and alone. I could not think. Sometimes, doctors prescribed me medications for depression, at other times for bipolar disorder. The medications did not help; they only made my symptoms worse. And all the time I am thinking I do not have a mental illness. Something else is causing my problems.”
It was questioning from a Mind-Eye patient advocate that prompted Kelly to think back and realize that, yes, she had suffered several head injuries as a youngster – injuries that occurred long before being diagnosed with a learning disorder. The advocate told her the symptoms she described were classic to concussion.
“Dr. [Carla] Adams’ diagnosis was validation of my belief for all these years that I did not have a mental illness,” Kelly says. “Her words brought me instant relief. I wanted to cry.”
She describes the “brain” glasses prescribed her as “absolutely amazing,” and says, today (summer 2021), she is about “75 percent” back.
“I am feeling much calmer, relaxed. I am sleeping better. In fact, recently I slept a full eight hours. I cannot remember ever sleeping that long. I can now read the books that I was unable to read before. I have become much more social, eager to go out and do things with family and friends. That’s because I can concentrate and focus more and engage in normal conversations. Most importantly, I am able to interact with my daughter; I can actually remember what she is telling me,” Kelly says. Even her Taekwondo instructor has noticed the improvements, telling Kelly she is demonstrating much better balance and memory of martial arts moves during class sessions.
“I am forever grateful to the Mind-Eye Institute,” Kelly states. “Dr. Adams said she could help me – and she did.”
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