I've really enjoyed watching the ALS Icebucket challenge take off throughout the country. I'm also happy I was challenged, got to move it forward by challenging others, and made a donation.
I've also taken the time to talk with people who have participated in the challenge. It seems college age folks and younger don't know exactly what ALS is and who Lou Gerhig was. I'm using this blog to spread the word.
Lou Gehrig was a baseball great who played for the New York Yankees. He was stricken down by a disease that caused him to stop playing and eventually die. Here is the speech he made at a game where he was honored:
Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?
Sure I’m lucky.
Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy?
Sure I’m lucky.
When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies -- that’s something.
When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter -- that’s something.
When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body -- it’s a blessing.
When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed -- that’s the finest I know.
So, I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for.
On my icebucket challenge, I sent a challenge out to my cousin, Brian Williams, who is a physical therapist in Denver Colorado. Brian lost a good friend, Pat George, to this terrible disease. Here is a piece that ran featuring Pat's story. I hope this helps you learn more about ALS:
Vision Concussion 101:
Step 1: Refraction: Vision usually shifts and the change in refraction should be prescribed.
Step 2: The brain has to relearn processing information from the right eye separately, the left eye separately and then both eyes together.
There you go. That’s the two most basic principles in rehabilitation for athletes who have sustained a concussion in the vision area of the brain.
Sure, many athletes also exhibit convergence insufficiency and/or accommodation problems, but we have to get the brain to learn how to process information from each eye separately first. When we don’t, the athlete’s brain becomes overwhelmed…..overloaded from a bombardment of stimulus that it can’t figure out what to do next and where to go. The athlete becomes symptomatic and must be shut down.
The use of eyeglasses (tranaglyph glasses) which have a red lens over the right eye and a green lens over the left eye are used to help train the brain in what is known bi-ocular vision therapy. We then put the athlete through several exercises where the brain learns to interpret information from the right eye and left eye separately.
Our favorite exercise has been with the use of our Fit Light Trainer. We have programmed the trainer in a manner that half of the lights are set to flash red and the other half are set to flash green. The athlete’s right eye sees the lights that flash red and must wave is or her hand over it to turn it off and another light randomly appears. The athlete’s left eye sees only the lights that are programmed to flash green. Athletes stare with a straight ahead gaze, go through a series of three minute exercises using their side vision and eye hand coordination during this routine. This helps reboot the dorsal vision stream.
We shouldn't confuse the above exercises with computer exercises which use red/green or red/blue eyeglasses. We use such a computer trainer (the Vizual Edge) in the later stages of recovery because this trains the ventral vision stream. In early stages, the dorsal stream needs to be rebooted before we use training routines that are solely ventral stream.
Eye doctors and vision exercises are very beneficial to the recovery of athletes with concussions affecting the vision area of the brain. We are beginning to find instances, though, where some athletes are doing vision therapy without first addressing the most basic step discussed in this article. I liken this to a patient starting to run after an ACL surgery before doing basic strength exercises and walking exercises first.
Make sure your athlete is getting the best care so that they can avoid frustration and delay in recovery.
We had the honor of evaluating the vision systems of the new draftee's of the NHL Carolina Hurricanes and then ranking them first to last based on these visual skills.
A few days later, I gave a one hour "eye exercise" clinic. During this clinic, we go over their team ranking, show them individually their visual system's strengths and weaknesses, and then give them exercises to help them improve their visual status.
Many of these exercises and this ranking method is discussed in my book, See To Play.
Please don't miss out on making sure your strengthening your visual system so that you can reach your genetic potential!
The drop I recommend the most for athletes with allergies that affect their eye is Zaditor. It was originally a prescription drop and is now found over the counter (similar to the oral allergy medications, Allegra and Claritin). This drop is an antihistamine and mast cell inhibitor which means it stops the allergic response in two different ways.
I instruct athletes to avoid drops with whitening agents stay away from drops, such as Visine, because they have an ingredient that contricts blood vessels. This medication can actually cause a mild dilation of the pupils when used in larger amounts (or if the active ingredient as expired) and that dilation of the pupils can interfere with how well the athlete sees when playing their sport.
I recommend starting the Zaditor when the ocular symptoms start, instill one drop twice a day and use at least for a 2 week period.
For contact lens wearing athletes, you can instill one drop first thing in the morning, wait 15 minutes and then put in your contacts. The second drop can be used in the evening after you have taken out your contacts (do not use the drops directly on the contact lenses).
This drop can be used for extended periods of time and has little to no side effects to the body and eyes.