What do over 40% of all retired NFL players share in common with many of our nation’s veterans?
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), which are caused by a blow to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. While the impact of TBIs on football players has gained great attention in recent years, there are more than 475 veterans who suffer from TBIs for each NFL player who suffers.
Over the past decade, the Defense Department has invested more than $800 million in research to prevent and treat the TBIs that now affect an estimated 325,000 veterans. Yet, despite this investment, “effective concussion treatment has remained frustratingly elusive,” (The New York Times). Veterans who suffer from TBI experience significant loss of cognitive function as well as dramatic impacts to their behavior, mood, speech, eyesight, and more.
These issues not only affect a veteran’s quality of life, but their capacity to pursue employment. Prolonged unemployment, combined with the symptoms above, contributes to the fact that 20 veterans take their own lives every day (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs). While there are many factors to be addressed within a traumatized veteran’s life, there is one that can be easily and immediately addressed: their vision, which is linked to many of the negative symptoms associated with TBI such as headaches, dizziness, anxiety, and more.
TBI causes significant problems with binocular vision, including subtle vision misalignment (Mechanisms of TBI & Visual Consequences in Military & Veteran Populations, Goodrich GL, et al, Optometry & Vision Science, 2013). Individuals with a TBI can suffer significant disability, yet current treatments are not fully adequate to help a substantial number of these service men and women.