Why the Game Speeds Up When it Formerly Slowed Down Post Concussion Visual Evaluation and Rehabilitation
The eyes have been called the “window to the soul.” The eyes are also a window into the brain. Specifically, their input influence which areas of the brain that are activated at any one moment in time.
High performers in baseball maintain clarity, situational awareness, accurate analysis and good decision-making under pressure. These athletes appear to see the big picture as well as focus intently on the important details. As athletes mature, competition requires their performance must improve. The games can appear to speed up. But usually within a short time the athlete is able to slow the game down.
Too often player’s game time performance reverts. They no longer can slow the game down. Their performance goes backwards. It’s an appearance of their being overwhelmed, tightened by tension. This leads to unhelpful actions—overt aggression, shutting down and panic. They let the situation get to them. They make poor decisions. As the game speeds up, they choke.
This can be very visible when when they have not fully recovered from brain injury. In fact, their “sub-par” performance is a “window” into their brain’s mal-functioning.
What happened to them? A careful study of their history, reveals they have had a series of what is considered minor head injuries. It’s the baseball or softball catcher who continues to get foul balls directly in their mask. Or it could be any player who gets hit by an opponent’s elbow, perhaps a knee, or runs into a barrier.
These players no longer handle stress as they were once capable of doing. It appears as if they “develop shutters as their horizons narrow”, “struggle with seeing when movement is involved” and they find themselves in an “ever-tightening corridor from which they feel there is no escape.”
We have found the ability or inability for the player to exhibit a range of proactive, precise, eye movement patterns, free of discomfort, to be revealing in their level of recovery. The proprietary testing protocol typically takes less than fifteen minutes. This assessment is typically done following a player’s release from the advised concussion protocol as monitored by the medical staff. It is a multi-lingual assessment.
The reason is that the brain functions with 12 Cranial nerves relay information between the brain and parts of the body, primarily to and from regions of the head and neck. 9 of the cranial nerves are involved in vision and eye movements. A concussion can be viewed as a disruption to one’s visual system. When concussed athletes exhibit eye movement inabilities, a daily regimen of oculomotor training for 10-15 minutes typically restores high level on the field performance. Once symptom free, the player is advised to continue with a regular maintenance plan.