Meet Cavin!

In appreciation of the ultimate day of Brain Injury Awareness Month, we desire decided to honor one of Developmental Optometry’s greatest friends in the globe Visual Rehabilitation, Cavin Balaster. This meeting, which originally appeared on the VTWorks blog in October 2013, is Cavin’s account of the light of ~ he suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury and his incredible road to recovery. Enjoy! 

A Sit Down – through Cavin Balaster


For the benefit of our readers, be possible to you explain how you are involved in Developmental Optometry?

Hi everyone, my praise is Cavin. I have Diplopia owed to a serious brain injury that I excepting that had a 10% chance of surviving from. After falling 20 feet from a shed ~ tower onto an industrial Brooklyn rooftop, I reach the front of my head on the steel scaffolding on the usage down, and hit the back of my summit on the concrete rooftop. I was rushed to the hospital in what place I was comatose and put forward life support. I was diagnosed with a Diffuse Axonal Injury. Approximately 90% of populace with this injury never regain consciousness. Those who transact wake up will often remain significantly impaired or in a vegetative express .

This injury caused many neurological disorders, including a grade that affects my vision. I gain a condition called 4th nerve paralysis. The fourth cranial nerve in the brain is called the pulley-shaped nerve and it innervates the prevalent oblique muscle which is one of the muscles that is used to east the eye. Essentially the communication between my brain and one of the ocular muscles is unjustly paralyzed. Because of this, I regard double. I began doing vision therapy at the Austin Center in opposition to Vision Development, under the care of Dr. Denise Smith conducive to almost two years. I still state of facts to vision therapy there every week.

May 8, 2011 was a weighty day in your life. What happened?

That was the promised time of my plummet. Before that set time, I was a 27 year aged bartender, anchored to a passion toward music. I had developed that excitement into a business that rented sound equipment for underground (and often illegal) warehouse parties throughout the five boroughs: a vocation that enabled me to continue to legally endure myself in a party atmosphere, because I had been doing for years. The scan of the Manhattan city skyline is spectacular from the highest state that one can find. That peculiar night, some friends and I were enjoying the explore from a water tower on a rooftop in Brooklyn. I plainly swung down from the apex in systematize to show a friend how to twine up, but my hand slipped.

The strong story of what happened is in the in the ~ place chapter of the book I am hand which is currently available for download in the present life: “Lights, Coma Action: Chapter One”

Immediately following your transgress you were hospitalized. How long were you in the hospital and what was your diagnosis?

Immediately after my close, I was rushed to the hospital and was entice on life support. I was stupefied for 12 days, in which I developed pneumony and MRSA while the doctors attempted to suction the fluids from my lungs. I am incredibly blessed to have survived, especially after moreover contracting these infections.

At first, they did a replete body CAT scan, which showed many structural injuries, but it did not exhibition the extent of my brain detriment. This was a list of my injuries at that question:

I had a bruised and swollen left keep in view (probably from hitting the scaffolding), by good luck the actual eye orbit was bloodshot except ok.

A nasal fracture

A fractured not crooked ileum and a fractured right sacrum (haunch bones)

3 cracked ribs on my left sect

Both lungs were severely bruised

A lacerated (to cut) left kidney

After only 48 hours following being admitted, the doctors made the divine choice to try to wean me away of the oxygen that was core pumped in and out of my lungs. This was in one attempt to get me to have a respite on my own. When they began flexure the oxygen down, my involuntary rejoinder was to bite down, as rigid as I could, onto the polished plastic tube that was supplying oxygen. My involuntary recoil had stopped ALL oxygen from fabrication it to my lungs and I desaturated to a hotspur oxygen of 60% (95-100% is ordinary). I was moving all four extremities precedent to this event, and afterward, the of the healing art reports state that I was none longer moving the left side of my material substance. This lack of oxygen may be in possession of caused a hypoxic stroke.


I had ~y MRI scan done shortly afterward what one. explained why I would not be roused up up: I had some serious brain injuries. I had bruised the left frontlet cortex of my brain (due to the scaffolding ~ numerous likely), a subdural Hematoma (Blood abscess within the outermost layer of the brain), and I had shearing in the corpus callosum (Diffuse Axonal Injury). As I related before, 90% of people with this injury never regain consciousness, and those who conclude wake up will often remain significantly impaired or in a vegetative category.

How specifically was your vision canting?

I had gone to see a optometrist at SUNY Optical in Manhattan in September, 2011, 5 months afterward my brain injury. I was prescribed a prism to change about the image that I saw through my right eye up seven diopters (of the sight units), but I did not outset therapy. I was using that lens with regard to several months, and I began to mark double in this prescription. When I leading went to the Austin Center on the side of Vision Development, I thought that my eyes were defecate, but my brain wasn’t interpreting the images correctly.  It took me months to apprehend exactly what was going on through my double vision. I learned that it was and is however another example of how my brain and corpse don’t communicate well. I was unfairly correct that my eyes were pecuniary penalty, but my thought that my brain didn’t elucidate the alignment wasn’t quite close. Normally, if you close your eyes in opposition to a while, and then open them and consider at… say a penny, what happens is that your eyes remark two separate images or two pennies (single from each eye) and immediately (a divide second), your brain tells muscles in your bud to orient the eyes in a undoubting way so that the objects converge and you see the one penny that is truly there.

The fourth nerve controls the superior oblique muscle for eye movement, and paralysis is a medical term meaning imperfect paralysis. The function of the noble oblique is primarily to move the keep in view downward and outward. Essentially the self-acting eye movement to align my phantom is partially paralyzed. You can examine this in this photo. My ~ful pupil is higher than my left… They are not at the identical height.


Notice how my right fleur-de-lis and pupil sits higher than my left. You be able to see the white below my iris on the right eye (left edge of picture), but not on the left (direct side of picture).

When I went to have existence assessed for my vision I was utter through many tests. Dr. Denise Smith assessed my in accordance with duty eye as seeing nine diopters in the world of the departed my left eye. I had already deteriorated two diopters and in certainty, the higher the prism, the else my brain liked it. The usage this was tested was by switching the prism the same unit up each time and asking me which one looked better. I said that the eight looked bettor that the seven, the nine looked more fit than the eight… and with equal rea~n on. Dr. Smith said that I was “corrosive up the prism”, meaning that my brain was more than willing to get lazy and let the prism adjust my vision thus that I no longer needed to use the paralyzed eye muscles. She before-mentioned that if we don’t terminate something right now, that muscle give by ~ get lazier and lazier and not try to renewed in spirit.

I was beginning to see double in my current prism robustness and Dr. Smith had me stay in the seven diopter prisms and break the ice therapy. On our way out the entrance, Dr. Smith said to my mom “I be aware of this is expensive, thank you in such a manner much for caring enough to answer the purpose this for him. I don’t comprehend if he’ll ever not spend glasses, but I think we have power to make some real progress here.” I wasn’t happy with my vision in my current glasses, so I wasn’t happy with her plan to leave me in my current lenses because I saw double which made things frustrating, annoying, and dizzying. She instructed me to carry into effect a few exercises until I began therapy. I did good that, and miraculously saw my vision improve. The two images soon converged through a 7 diopter prism. This was stop 7 units from where I needed to subsist to see single, but things were eventually moving closer together rather than more remote apart. Today, I am wearing single a 4 diopter prism

After your mishap and release from the hospital, you were photographed multiplied times wearing an eye patch, in show to alleviate the symptoms of double supernatural appearance. Did the patch come at the commendation of a doctor or was it your model?

About a month after my brain injury, I told one of my occupational therapists near my double vision and she gave me an eye patch and told me to switch eyes each 20 minutes. This was to detain both of my eyes strong with equal rea~n that the oculo-motor muscles would not atrophy like so much of my material substance had. I set an alarm on my phone that would annoy everyone encircling me, but it also told me to switch my view patch… Plus, the eye piece made me look pretty tough!

How did you primary come to learn about Vision Therapy?

Honestly, I be seized of no idea. I was in a perfect brain fog when I began VT. My spring talked to my aunt, who talked to a coadjutor who highly recommended it, and the nearest thing I know, I’m difficult to fuse divergence, and base on the ground before even getting approved for funding toward any therapies.

During your initial test with Denise Smith O.D., that which diagnosis and what treatment options were you given?

Unfortunately, I was continually in such a brain fog such I do not even remember, but that I would assume that the diagnosis was which I talked about earlier.:-/

Can you give an account of your experiences in Vision Therapy?

I receive been going for about 2 years, and VT has helped one extraordinary amount… not only with my vision, but it has helped to illumine some of the shadow that has been look by my brain injury. I kindness Vision Therapy because its purpose is not to followers the eyes, but rather to train the brain. You await with your eyes, but you SEE with your brain.  Neuro-plasticity is the sense ability to change and rewire itself, that is exactly what needed to happen in order for me to retrieve normal function after the connections not beyond my brain were severed in some areas, and damaged in others. They declaration “neurons that fire together metallic thread together” and that principle seems to subsist how organisms learn to do anything of recent origin, and if a skill is forgotten or that kitchen-yard in the brain is damaged, to reobtain an old skill. This principle seems to be the centerpiece of VT and I am in reverential fear of how effective it really is.

About unit year after your accident, you started blogging from one place to another where you were on significant dates the year prior to. Your perspective at times is exceedingly raw, yet the chronicle of progress is actual valuable in appreciating each step encourage. Has blogging been cathartic for you?

Beyond anything I eternally could have imagined, blogging has been extremely physic. I had damage to my corpus callosum, what one. networks the left and right hemispheres of the brain. I felt compelled to pen. In doing so, I realized that it was ~y effort to construct a grounding tale in order to integrate the trauma that my material substance registered but my damaged mind had not been expert to yet grasp. Blogging was thus beneficial because if forced me to take the “right brain trauma” that I experienced, and to be the cause of it to a “left brain rehearsal.”This activity was precisely the connections that I needed to fashion around the damaged areas that were in this intercourse matrix that was shown to have existence damaged in my MRI scans.

As I got in a superior manner, my friends began to call me “Mr. Bounce” subsequent to the old Roger Hargreaves children’s part because I seemed to “knock right back!” I did not ~r though… It is a draw, not a bounce. There is not at all undoing a brain injury. I be durable to write about the most momentous and useful methods that I be the subject of used to recover, including brain structure nutrition (what I like to denominate “food for thought”), in hopes to refrain from other survivors and their friends and families.

As division of your recovery, you have made burdensome strides in spreading awareness about Traumatic Brain Injuries.  Can you take an account of us more?

I have been contacted through the friends and families of ~ persons brain injury survivors and I contingent my strength and hope with them, for example well as the methods that I be favored with used in order to recover to the purpose that I have. No two brains are the same, so no pair brain injuries are the same. We do not seem to know enough with respect to the brain to have a especial diagnosis and treatment. But an without the least error diagnosis is not necessary to alleviate brain injury survivors now!I imagine the neurons in my brain like plants. If you be attentive a wilting and sick plant, you don’t lack a degree in botany and a diagnosis to encourage it back to health by giving it light of heaven, water, and good soil. Same by the brain. Even without the competency to accurately diagnose a brain jumble, if we can support the environment that the neurons are in (glia), afterward the neurons can thrive. This is the denoting futurity of neuro-rehab because it makes judgment, the methods that I use are unhurt, and it seems to work! I confidence to eventually open my own clinic to heal brain injury survivors to recover.  I obtain been studying physiology, biochemistry, human metabolism, pharmacology, and therapeutic neuroscience on my own, and I concoct to go on to study tot~y of these subjects at an accredited of medicine university while also learning as plenteous as I can about brain damage, human nutrition, vision therapy, and alternative therapies. Through my studies and reaching lacking to doctor whom I admire, I freshly met an amazing Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Chiropractic Medicine, and Naturopathic Medicine named Dr. Alex Vasquez. He invited me to the International Conference in successi~ Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine in Portland, Oregon on the model of I contacted him to thank him in spite of his work. Dr. Vasquez invited me attached stage at one point, where I got a take place to speak to a room replete of a few hundred practitioners and curative students about brain building nutrition (I like to cry it “food for thought”). I demise post the video to my website which time I get it.

What is Lights, Coma, Action?

I be the subject of written about 60,000 words in my blog, documenting the at the outset year of my recovery, and possess begun to write this entire record into a book that I reliance will become an important resource instead of brain injury survivors everywhere, as my blog has even now become, as well as a contribution to TBI perception and understanding.  This volume will be the story of who I was (LIGHTS), in what condition I sustained a serious brain detriment (COMA), and my successful recovery and methods (ACTION!).  These are my adventures in brain damage: “LIGHTS, COMA, ACTION!”

Your part sounds very interesting, and will securely provide a unique perspective on Traumatic Brain Injuries to the couple those of us who try to ameliorate, and those who have suffered the furniture.  Personally, I am really looking eager to its release.  If someone would like to give to your fundraising efforts to constitute your publication possible, how can they carry into practice this?

Watch my Kickstarter video and granting that you would like to help away, you can pre-order the main division here:

I was recently in a podcast that spoke a portion about vision therapy.

This is my website. If you consider a halfway decent computer, click forward the index link to here tot~y of the posts laid out in chronological precept.

Here is the first chapter of my main division .

I also host an “Ask Me Anything” boy-servant on Reddit that be found hither.


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