Vision Rehabilitation and Cognitive Therapy Help Stroke Patient Get Her Life Back
Saundra Stokes of Allentown, Pennsylvania, experienced visual migraines from age 40 until menopause. When similar symptoms recurred several years after menopause, doctors thought her migraines had returned. No one realized that these new visual symptoms were the warning signs of a stroke.
Saundra’s stroke occurred in the fall of 2014 while driving. She initially lost all of her peripheral vision and was unable to see traffic lights and other cars. She was confused and could not process what was happening. She spent three days in intensive care, and as the stroke swelling subsided, her peripheral vision partially returned.
Saundra came to Good Shepherd’s Vision Rehabilitation Program to more fully recover her sight. After an initial evaluation and treatment, she began seeing Andrea Nichols, MS, OTR/L, occupational therapist, on a routine basis. Therapy featured exercises with special prism glasses and strobe lights, spinning on chairs and standing on foam cushions to improve balance while performing cognitive tasks on a large TV screen.
While her vision improved, Saundra knew something was not quite right with her mental processing. It wasn’t obvious to others, but she felt she was having difficulty getting things done, especially activities that involved a lot of details. As a math major with a career in the banking industry, these had always been strengths for Saundra.
She began cognitive therapy with Good Shepherd’s Lisa Seier, MS, CCC-SLP, licensed speech-language pathologist, to “retrain” her brain. Together, they worked through strategies that would help Saundra break tasks into smaller pieces and to prioritize her work. A key part of her therapy included the Interactive Metronome® (IM) to improve her multi-tasking skills.
IM is a computer-based assessment and training program that improves the brain’s timing and processing skills through cognitive exercises performed in time to a computer-generated beat. Specially certified therapists use this treatment to improve the brain’s millisecond timing that is needed for everyday tasks.
Saundra says both the cognitive and vision therapy have helped tremendously, especially at work. She wants people to understand that visual changes can be a precursor to stroke and should not be ignored. If you have stroke symptoms such as those described here, please see your doctor immediately.