Utah Patient ‘Blown Away’ by What Eyeglasses Do for His Injured Brain
Despite Earthquake and Virus, He Gets to Mind-Eye Appointment
Gabe boasts, “The ‘brain’ glasses from the Mind-Eye Institute have seemingly resolved my headaches, renewed my joy in reading, increased my awareness, improved my memory and thinking and basically, helped me regain my life!”
That is why neither the coronavirus pandemic nor the March 18, 2020 earthquake in his hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah — on the very day of his scheduled flight out, no less — could stop Gabe Stout from eventually arriving in Chicago for his second appointment at the Mind-Eye Institute.
“I ended up flying all night to Atlanta and, from Atlanta, to O’Hare International Airport. From the airport, I came directly to Mind-Eye for a 9:30 a.m. appointment. That’s how important this trip was to me,” says Gabe, who struggled for seven years with symptoms of a serious brain injury before learning about the work of the Mind-Eye Institute (https://www.mindeye.com).
When initially examined at the Mind-Eye Institute in November 2019, Gabe was told his eye movements were at a third-grade level. “The computer showed my gaze was scattered. My eyes were not even staying on the line that the words were on as I read,” he recalls. But since receiving his first pair of therapeutic eyeglasses – “Brainwear™” – in December, Gabe says, “I have already read five books – and understand them.”
Located in Northbrook, Ill., the Mind-Eye Institute team combats symptoms of brain injury and neurological disorders and helps patients redevelop – or initially develop – visual processing capabilities by using therapeutic eyeglasses, filters and other optometric methods. “Brain” glasses are intended to bend light in different ways across the retina, which is made of brain tissue and is part of the central nervous system.
“Light is how the retina communicates with the brain, and the brain responds,” says Mind-Eye founder and executive research director Deborah Zelinsky, OD. “The light is first converted into chemical signals, which then trigger electrical impulses that propagate through nerves. In fact, the eye plays a critical role in routing information through multiple pathways to the brain’s cortex. 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 spatial awareness and perception.”
“Before coming to the Mind-Eye Institute, I was in deep despair. I thought I would never leave the realm of brain injury,” Gabe says. “But Dr. Zelinsky and her team changed all that. They have enabled me to take back control of my life. I have nothing but gratitude for what they have done,” Gabe says.
Gabe sustained a traumatic brain injury and a fractured back in 2012 after crashing the Motocross cycle he was riding on a track where he also worked as an employee. The accident occurred shortly before he was to enter his senior year of high school. After extensive hospitalization and rehabilitation, his back healed, but the brain injury did not, leaving him with chronic headaches, double vision, limited peripheral perception and awareness, sound and light sensitivity, mental fogginess, balance issues and difficulties with memory and thinking.
He was seen by a variety of physicians, eye specialists, chiropractors — even a brain-mapping expert, who used neurobiofeedback to teach Gabe how to control his brainwaves. Gabe indicates that their combined efforts helped diminish the intensity of some symptoms, but still left him with difficult challenges.
“I tried to adapt, hide behind a façade, look normal, so that other people would not see me as ‘that guy who injured his brain,’” Gabe says. By this time, he had graduated high school and was attending college, but reading continued to be a chore – and retaining and understanding what he read proved even a greater barrier.
“My dad realized that I was not the person I once was, that I was unable to reach my full potential. He did a lot of research, discovered the book Ghost in My Brain, read it and brought the information to me,” Gabe says. In the book, author Clark Elliott PhD, a DePaul University academician and specialist in applied artificial intelligence, details his eight years of struggles following a traumatic brain injury and his search for practitioners who could help him return to his old self. Published in 2015, the book describes what Dr. Elliott calls the “magic” work of the Mind-Eye Institute.
The book “resonated with Dad and me,” says Gabe, and prompted them to arrange an appointment at the Mind-Eye Institute. “We came to Chicago with hope but did not expect to get blown away by the results.”
Gabe remembers removing his first pair of Mind-Eye glasses from the box, looking at them, and thinking, “This is it. My life will no longer be the same.”
His prediction proved true.
“The glasses have expanded my visual field and reduced my sensitivity to noise and bright lights. I am more aware of what is around me and do not even feel the need anymore to wear sunglasses when outdoors or driving. My headaches are gone, too,” says Gabe.
“These are not ordinary eyeglasses,” explains Dr. Zelinsky. “They are precisely designed to readjust visual processing and eye-ear integration and enhance patient comfort – not to improve the 20/20 clarity of a person’s central eyesight.”
“Visual processing” refers to the brain’s almost-instantaneous ability to subconsciously take in external sensory signals (from eyesight, hearing, smell, taste and touch), combine them with internal sensory signals and then synthesize – process — the information, allowing a person to react and respond to his or her environment. When functioning normally, visual processing enables people to understand and interact appropriately to the world around them. When brain circuitry is disrupted due to brain injury – as in Gabe’s case – or to neurological disorders, people become can become confused about their surrounding environment and exhibit inappropriate reactions and responses to movement, sounds and light.
Even more importantly for a guy like Gabe in his mid-twenties, “the glasses have expanded my social life. I am no longer embarrassed [by symptoms of brain injury]. I can now go out and just be myself.
“The differences these glasses have made in my life in a few short months are nothing short of miraculous,” adds Gabe, who is planning to get his degree next year in construction management.
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