When you consider the abundant functions of the brain, it’s no surprise that even slight damage to its sensitive tissues can wreak havoc on one’s physical and mental health. Many people experience some degree of emotional distress after suffering a head injury. But how can you tell if your symptoms are serious?
If you or a loved one has ever experienced a concussion, we urge you to learn more about the emotional and physical side effects it may bring, and discover how a neuro-optometrist can help.
What Occurs During a Concussion?
The nerves of the brain are surrounded by soft and fatty tissues, and these fragile nerves are further protected by a layer of fluid and the bony skull. During a sudden and forceful jolt or bump to the head or neck region, such as whiplash, the brain continues to move while the head has stopped moving. This causes the brain to slam into the inner walls of the skull or be shaken back and forth, resulting in a concussion.
This mild form of traumatic brain injury can damage or destroy brain cells, and may also negatively impact the healthy protective tissues surrounding the damaged cells.
Although concussions are considered ‘mild’ because they aren’t life-threatening, they can cause debilitating symptoms like headaches, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, blurred vision, balance problems, confusion and emotional distress, among others.
The Link Between Concussions and Self-Esteem
A concussion can negatively affect emotional well-being and self-esteem, both directly and indirectly.
A post-concussion patient may find it difficult to do the things they once enjoyed, like exercising, reading, doing schoolwork or even watching TV. Withdrawing from these activities, even temporarily, may result in feelings of depression, anxiety, and reduced self-worth. When you can’t read, concentrate or complete day-to-day activities as you once did, your limitations can become your main focus.
Concussions can also directly damage areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, directly affecting how a person relates to themselves and others.
A study published in Brain Injury (2014) concluded that a person’s self-concept may be impacted following a concussion/traumatic brain injury and that patients should seek treatment for emotional distress following a head injury.
Signs of Lowered Self-Esteem
Because each brain is unique, it’s hard to tell how a concussion will affect the patient, both in the short and long term. Here are a few signs that may reveal emotional distress and reduced self-esteem following a concussion:
- Withdrawal from social events
- Avoiding activities that were once enjoyable
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling unloved or unwanted
- Feeling hopeless
- Negative self-talk
- Neglecting personal hygiene or appearance
- Inability to accept compliments
- Feelings of shame, depression or anxiety
If you or a loved one displays any of the above symptoms, rest assured that help is available.
How We Help Post-Concussion Patients
Recovering from a concussion can be difficult, but neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can help by improving the neural communication between the eyes and the brain and how an injured brain processes visual information.
Concussions can significantly affect the eye-brain connections, resulting in symptoms like dizziness, inability to concentrate, light sensitivity and headaches, as well as emotional distress.
A neuro-optometrist can improve the functioning of the visual system in ways that other professionals aren’t trained to, thereby reducing — even eliminating — these debilitating symptoms.
By training the brain and eyes to efficiently work in unison, visual skills will improve and you’ll find it easier to do things like reading, watching TV, using a computer and concentrating without taking as many breaks.
If you or a loved one has ever sustained a concussion, a functional vision evaluation may be called for to rule out visual dysfunction. Even if you’ve been told that nothing can be done by other health care professionals, we may be able to help, even years after the injury.
Let us help you get back to doing the things you love. To schedule a functional visual evaluation, call The St. Catharines Vision Therapy Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry today.
The St. Catharines Vision Therapy Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry offers neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy to patients from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls, Welland , and St. Catharines, Ontario and surrounding communities.
- A: Neuro-optometrists help patients who’ve survived a stroke, sustained varying degrees of brain injury or have a neurological condition that impedes visual function. All of these conditions can adversely impact visual skills and may cause symptoms that hinder independent functioning and reduce one's quality of life. By rehabilitating the visual system, a neuro-optometrist can provide relief and promote a greater degree of recovery to these patients.
- A: No. A neuro-optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry with specialized training in the area of visual system rehabilitation. A general optometrist performs eye exams, diagnoses and manages eye diseases and prescribes corrective lenses to patients. General optometrists do not have the training or experience to perform neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.