Aspirus Media Center

It’s More than Seeing Stars

February is Low Vision Awareness Month Specialized Therapy Can Treat Post-concussion Vision and Balance Issues


Jason Duir, Aspirus Patient (L) & Amanda Whipple, Aspirus Occupational Therapist (R)

What comes to mind when you hear the word “concussion?” A player getting hit on the football field? Slipping on the ice and bumping your head? Colliding with the steering wheel during an auto accident?


Concussions have been getting a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s latest research, approximately 1 in 5 adults claim to have had at least one concussion. Of those respondents, 25 percent were between the ages of 18 and 24, and only about 30 percent sought medical care.


A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury, during which a sudden movement - such as a direct or indirect hit - causes the brain to move quickly back and forth within the skull. This movement causes disruption of brain cells and chemical changes within the brain.


The onset of symptoms following a concussion can be immediate or delayed. Symptoms of a concussion can include headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, sensitivity to light and/or noise, cognitive challenges such as difficulty with memory, focus, or processing, speech challenges, depression or irritability, and more often than not, visual changes.


“Changes in vision have been documented in approximately 70 percent of patients with concussion,” said Amanda Whipple, Aspirus occupational therapist and one of just five OTs in Wisconsin with a specialty certification in low vision rehabilitation.


Jason Duir of Schofield experienced many of these symptoms after hitting his head in a car accident in December. For weeks, his blurred vision, dizziness, and severe light sensitivity left him spending all day in a dark room. “I couldn’t even watch TV or look at my cell phone without losing my balance,” said Duir.


According to Whipple, the best approach to recovering from a concussion is enlisting a team of medical professionals specially trained in helping the brain heal. “After being assessed by a medical provider for the concussion and seeking additional resources as needed, a great way to help alleviate your visual symptoms and help restore normal function is through occupational therapy, specifically low vision rehabilitation.”


Fortunately, Duir was referred to Whipple and on January 5, began his weekly low vision rehab appointments at Aspirus Plover Clinic-Plover Road. Today, he is “feeling fantastic” and reports being about 96 percent recovered. “I still have a little light sensitivity and a little dizziness doing certain things; but I feel a lot better.” He highly recommends low vision rehab to anyone who has experienced a head injury.


In addition to treating concussion patients, Whipple also helps individuals who are living with low vision due to age-related macular degeneration, stroke, brain injury, diabetic retinopathy, cataract, and glaucoma.

“We work directly with the part of the brain that controls visual perception and awareness of where you are in space,” said Whipple. “We also help your eyes be able to tolerate visual activities such as looking at your computer at work or school, scanning the road while driving, and tolerating those trips to the grocery store. It is possible to live life to its fullest once again, with the right team of professionals on your side.”


To learn more about low vision rehabilitation with Amanda Whipple, call Aspirus Plover Clinic-Plover Road at 715-295-3800.



Back to all Posts