Neuroscience is a relatively new field which has progressed very quickly. This includes our understanding on how the brain works from a neuroplasticity standpoint, which has changed dramatically and given us new methods harnessing that neuroplasticity. This has been especially important for the treatment of concussions.
I run the Neuro-Vision Associates of North Texas with 14 years of specialist practice. We’re constantly striving to stay at the cutting-edge of therapy by harnessing emerging technologies and the latest understandings in neuroscience. Around 40% of our practice is dedicated to mTBI treatment through a neuro-visual rehabilitation approach.
We’ve found that it’s key to have the foundational skillsets properly integrated in the sensory domains in order to develop the higher level cognitive side. Fundamentally, both sides need each other to progress recovery, but I think we’re only now starting to recognize in the vision specialist field that the perceptual-cognitive side is as important as the sensory side.
The Dynamics of Concussions
I often open my lectures by saying when you’ve seen one brain injury…you’ve seen one brain injury. It’s pivotal to recognize that there are many different dynamics to concussion, both in the functional effects and in the symptoms. There are also often very different recovery trajectories from one person to another. For example, sometimes we have patients who’ve been hit in the head really hard and they come in for six sessions and they’ve actually recovered.
But then you can have someone else who’s had a minor fender bender, and they have such debilitating symptoms that just a slight rotation of their chair triggers severe dizziness. So you have to take a very individualized approach utilizing the right combination of therapies for specific needs and start very slow before progressing treatment. This is how we use NeuroTracker in our practice, which I think is a really valuable tool for mTBI rehabilitation.
NeuroTracker & Brain Injuries
I was initially interested in NeuroTracker for a project working with a group of functional neurologists on brain injuries. Since the first day we put it in our center, it became a favorite tool for our therapists. I particularly find NeuroTracker useful on the latter stages of our therapy to really take on the perceptual-cognitive aspect of recovery. Recently, I presented for two days at a clinical symposium on traumatic and acquired brain injury, where I introduced NeuroTracker to industry professionals to explain how it’s utilized with patients and expose them to a technology that can change people’s lives.
From the patient’s perspective it’s a nice piece of the puzzle for them when they’ve rebuilt most of their fundamental sensory functions and can then take on the challenge of high-level cognitive tasks – feeling everything coming back together.
We’re constantly evolving ideas on how to leverage NeuroTracker in different ways as we get down in the trenches with it, trying to improve outcomes for brain injury patients to make it an even more powerful tool than it already is. It’s going to be pivotal to see technologies like this become publically available so that clinical professionals can deliver care that truly optimizes the brain injury recovery process.