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Often overlooked, vision therapy helps man recover after concussion

Michael Gibbs got into a car accident in 2015
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Posted at 12:43 PM, Jan 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-25 14:49:59-05

FRANKTOWN, Colo. — Michael Gibbs was in a car accident in 2015. He hit his head against the glass and suffered a severe concussion. His life changed after that.

"I was slurring my speech," Gibbs said. "I was getting dizzy. I was getting morning sickness. I couldn’t concentrate or focus."

It was also affecting what he loved: riding his horse, Lakota. Eventually, it became too dangerous to saddle up.

"I was kind of scared that I was going to have to sell my horse and just be done with the whole riding horses and team roping and doing those things again," Gibbs said.

Gibbs was frustrated. He didn't think the current therapy was helping him.

His doctor eventually referred him to Highline Vision Center in Aurora.

"His eyes weren’t teaming," Highline Optometrist Jennifer Redmond explained. "They weren’t working together as a team and his eyes weren’t tracking well."

According to Dr. Redmond, a person's eyes are sometimes overlooked when it comes to concussion therapy, especially in Gibbs' case.

"Vision was a huge trigger for him," Redmond said. "He had already gone through physical therapy by the time he came to us. We were the last piece of the puzzle."

Gibbs started piecing that puzzle together when he started working with Highline therapist Stefanie Ohrns.

"Mike is amazing. He came and he was prepared every single week,"Ohrns said. "He went through all of the torturous things I would give him."

The rehabilitation process for Gibbs included an evaluation of the visual system and treatment of any visual problems.

The hard work paid off. Gibbs started feeling better. Recently, he started riding his horse again.

"It was the most ecstatic thing," said Gibbs. "It was like being born again."

Gibbs said he made lifelong friends during his time at Highline and can't thank the doctors and therapists enough.

"People are trying to get back to work and get back to a normal life," Redmond said. "They want to drive their cars or work on a computer. Vision is often the issue that’s holding them back."