By: Eric Hussey, OD, FCOVD, Optometric Offices, Spokane, Washington.

I do like old television shows: Perry Mason, that kind of thing.  One of the best old TV shows (in my view) is Peter Gunn.  You’ll recognize the Peter Gunn theme music any time you hear a high school pep band.  It’s top-notch 30-minute episodes, sort of film noir, where Pete, the tough detective and gun-for-hire with the beautiful singer-girlfriend, delivers blows to the bad guys but also gets beaten up routinely.  Concussion after concussion after concussion.

That is what we are seeing more and more and what we are treating more and more with vision therapy in our office lately.  Concussion after concussion after concussion.  What’s happening out there?  The difference on TV is Pete recovers in a couple of minutes to deal violently and completely with the bad guys – the thugs.  And his girlfriend ends the episode singing.  Lola Albright – a legitimate velvet-voiced jazz singer from the early ‘60s.

Some political-medical groups have suggested vision therapy doesn’t have research behind it.  A quick look through (mainly) just one of the journals I’ve published in gave the list below – 15 papers.  Again, that’s mainly one journal, with a couple of other papers that popped up in my search.  Imagine what taking some real time to look for research would produce!

Optometric offices doing vision therapy are part of the team to work with concussions.  Sometimes it’s not easy.  The brain has been shaken.  Some of the folks we see have been through some rehabilitation at the local rehab hospital.  I can’t say enough about how good those rehab people are.  Physical therapy and occupational therapy work on physical and movement problems after a concussion, among other things.  But, when vision is an issue when the visual system has been jerked, tweaked, and jostled, so that eye movements, ability to focus and turn eyes in for reading and visual sensation (the suppression I’ve written about) have been compromised, as the reference list below suggests, optometric vision therapy is both appropriate and effective in treating those issues.

As I told the dental hygienist who was rear-ended last December, “Let’s see if we can improve life for you a little.”  It’s about making concussion victims better.  Unfortunately, just getting to the 30-minute mark in the episode isn’t going to produce a full and perfect recovery as it did for Pete.  With diligent work, things can improve.  But it takes time.

Sports are an area where concussion is seen in adolescents.  It makes sense, and those dealing with adolescents as we do, need to pay attention to concussions.  Ask questions about sports.  However, one of the recent political-medical groups suggesting vision therapy is not useful in concussions is a national organization of pediatricians.  As a watcher of old TV shows, may I say that if pediatricians are seeing increased concussions, the first question needs to be about the parents?  Maybe these pediatricians need to hire Peter Gunn to suggest strongly to parents how children should be treated, and these same pediatricians should quiet down about something of which they apparently know little – vision therapy.

Fade to black and play theme music.

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