Window 3: VNG – TBI, Concussion and Brain Function Evaluation

Written By: David Burns

The eyes have been said to be “windows to the soul”. More importantly for us, they are a “window” (i.e. functional assessment tool) of brain function and balance centers of the nervous system.

Different areas of brain are responsible for various functions like tracking objects, making quick eye movements from target A to target B, stopping the eyes on an intended target and keeping the eyes fixed on a target.

These functions and other characteristics of eye movements; like how smooth the eyes move, whether or not the eyes move together, the symmetry of the pupils and how the pupils react to light are all reflections of the “strength” and “endurance” of different brain “muscles”.

We use an infrared camera and a computer (videonystagmography or VNG) to record and measure the speed and accuracy of the eye movements and functions. This type of equipment is the same that one might find in a neurotolgy office or vestibular lab.

These measurements and observations help us understand how your brain is performing. The measurements are not only compared to other’s (i.e. normative data) but also how one direction compares to the other. By looking at symmetry of function we can tell which areas can be improved on with simple exercises.

It is important to remember that these various areas of brain that are being tested (e.g. Frontal Cortex, Parietal, Cerebellum) do more than these measured functions. Therefore, other issues or dysfunctions beyond the eye functions themselves may be discovered or correlated with other brain issues (e.g. attention, learning disabilities, tics, thought processing).

These brain functions (e.g. tracking, visual fixation, quick eye movements) are not only used to help identify brain issues and recover from concussions but are also used to help an athlete increase their level of performance. Most athletes would benefit from an increase visual locking on targets, tracking of targets and quicker eye movements.

The eyes are a great window for early identification of various brain issues including neurobehavioral disabilities (e.g. ADHD) as well concussion management and increasing the brain muscles that will help you achieve optimal sports performance.

This blog and the other blog “windows” into brain function are not intended for anybody to make any diagnosis or determine treatment for anybody. It is simply intended to help patients understand what a functional approach to neurology, brain function, concussion management, sports performance evaluation may entail. But most importantly, to help the patient or client communicate with the provider so that they or their children can achieve the best brain health possible. Achieving optimal brain health is an interdependent process, an active process that starts with communication.

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