The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) and the Neuro Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA) have issued a joint call-to-action to all healthcare professionals to consider the need for medical and/or functional optometric rehabilitation services for patients who have experienced a TBI or other neurological injury.
Injuries could include not only a traumatic brain injuries but also medical conditions such as stroke, tumor, aneurism, meningitis, and cerebral palsy, or other neurological insults.
“Studies show that at least 50 percent of TBI patients suffer from visual dysfunctions, with one such study finding a 90 percent incidence of post-trauma visual complications, such as blurred vision, sensitivity to light, reading difficulty, headaches with visual tasks, and difficulties with eye movements,” says NORA president Susan Daniel, OD, in a media release.
“About two-thirds of stroke survivors have visual impairment that typically relates to diminished central or peripheral vision, eye movement abnormalities, or visual perceptual defects,” she adds.
“Clinicians regularly assess a concussion or other acquired brain injury to the symptoms that an individual manifests at the time of injury but, unfortunately, vision-related problems are often overlooked during initial evaluation,” states COVD President, Dr Christine Allison.
“Some symptoms, like visual discomfort and vision-mediated functional difficulties such as slowed reading and compromised attention, may not be present until days, weeks, or even longer following the incident. The consequences of these occurrences may also include cognitive problems such as headache, difficulty thinking, memory problems, attention deficits, mood swings and frustration, along with motor and sensory issues leading to impaired academic, work, and sport performance.”
Given the high rate of visual symptoms and known impact, both COVD and NORA urge healthcare professionals to consider the possibility that a patient’s ocular or visual signs or symptoms may have been a result of a brain injury and refer him/her to an optometrist who has special expertise in the assessment and treatment of visual disturbances associated with damage to the central nervous system, the release explains.
“Doctors of Optometry who have been educated and trained to diagnose and manage ocular dysfunctions and visual processing deficits related to brain injuries will examine not only the visual issues, but also other subtle factors involved in the complex visual process, such as posture, spatial awareness, visual memory, and motor output — all areas that can have wide-ranging effects on daily activities and on quality of life,” Allison explains. “Left untreated, they can have serious consequences.”
Both COVD and NORA stress the importance of an interdisciplinary, integrated team approach in the diagnosis and rehabilitation of patients with concussions, stroke, or other neurological deficits.
“When a person has a brain injury, often a single approach to rehabilitation is not enough to address all of his/her needs,” Daniel comments. “An integrated team approach that incorporates the training and expertise of a variety of professionals can play a vital role in rehabilitation.”
In addition to optometrists, rehabilitation team members may include such specialists as neurologists, physical medicine and rehab physicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, chiropractors, neuropsychologists, audiologists, and ophthalmologists.
[Source(s): College of Optometrists in Vision Development, Neuro Optometric Rehabilitation Association, Business Wire]