Thank you to COVD for writing this piece. COVD Link:
We reached out to Ella after her comment on our Facebook page made it clear–we needed to hear more about her incredible recovery from concussion thanks to vision therapy! After you read her story, learn more about brain injury recovery, other adults whose lives are better after VT, and how VT can help your sports game even without a concussion!
The game that changed it all
My name is Ella Malone. I am 19 years old and from Lowville, New York. This is my story.
September 23, 2014 started off as a typical day, and little did I know later that day my life would change in a huge way. After a normal day at school, I had a soccer game at our local fair grounds. Everything seemed to be going great during the game, except for the fact the score was 0-0 and there were only ten minutes left in the second half. I remember standing in position as the goalie and a girl on the opposing team got a break away from my sweeper. Immediately, I started running backwards towards my goal to keep the opponent from gaining scoring opportunities. Just as she reached the top of my twenty box and I got back in my ten, she took a shot.
Luckily, I saved the ball from going in, but not how I intended: the ball was trapped by my feet as I fell. As quickly as I could, I tried to get up and trap the ball properly with my hands, but I only got as far as lifting my head. The same girl who had taken the shot kicked once again–this time, directly at the back of my head.
At this point I was still on the ground, only now holding my head, trying to get back up. No call was made against the girl, as she mistook my head for the ball. My defenders rallied around me making sure I was okay, but I wasn’t taken out of play. I played the remaining 40 minutes of the game confused, dazed, and not knowing where I was. Only after it all ended was there any concern that I may have had a concussion.
“You may have symptoms for the rest of your life”
Every day that followed, for two and a half years, I woke up with a headache from this incident. In addition, I experienced nausea, dizziness, fatigue, double vision, and shadowing, and had trouble focusing, concentrating, and remembering. Three months after my concussion, I was diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome (PCS), andeight months later, with post-concussive migraines. It was so much to take in!
To hear that I was suffering from these conditions was incredibly frustrating. All I could think was that not only did I have all of these obstacles to face and overcome, but on top of that I was being weighed down with the ball and chain of my symptoms and disabilities. After a year had gone by and I was still experiencing the effects of my injury, my family decided it was time for me to visit a clinic specifically for concussion recovery.
Beginning in my junior year of high school, I went to a concussion clinic in Syracuse, NY, where a variety of therapies were recommended. Back at home in Lowville I did all three, two times a week, for about 4 months. But despite all my hard work, nothing seemed to be helping. My doctors started to tell me “you might not get back to the ‘you’ you want to be; you may have symptoms for the rest of your life.” But I was not going to let that happen. I told my mom, there has got to be something we can do to get me better. This is where the good starts to happen!
Hope at last
In August of 2016, my mom found a vision therapy clinic in nearby Mexico, NY. Here, finally I found hope! The very first time I walked in, I felt something like a spark go off within me. For the first time in the two long years after being kicked in the head, I honestly could see myself facing and conquering the giants ahead of me.
I noticed improvements within the first week, and things only kept getting better from then on. In vision therapy, I would work on balance, tracking, convergence, and more.I went from a reading level of 1% to 88% in just five months. Not only that, but visual fields in both my left and right eyes increased (see below). God is Good, Amen! Waters were being parted.
I wish I could tell you things only kept getting better from then on, but I got another concussion shortly after. However, I was blessed and fortunate enough to have my vision therapy team for support this time and they managed to get me back on my feet once again. In a matter of 6 weeks, I was stronger and better than before that second concussion. God works in mysterious ways!! Even though I have setbacks like these, each time I come back stronger than before!
Life after recovery
Along with my perseverance and my vision therapy team’s dedication, I can proudly say that my continued improvement has been possible because I have been changed for the better as a person. If I were to see myself a year ago, I would not recognize the person I was then. She was hopeless, confused, and tired, but now she is optimistic and thriving.
Through all this, there has been good! Praise God!! In the past year, I have learned of a potential calling for my life: optometry. I’ve also learned that hope is never lost: my hope was restored by my optometrists and therapists.
There are several things I want the reader to know:
Never Give Up, Keep Fighting.
Find faith and strength inside.
Keep hope alive, it is never lost!
Dare to Dream Big.
Find the people who can make you laugh and smile while your facing trials.
You are ENOUGH!!
If you are reading this and need encouragement or have gone through a similar experience, please don’t be afraid to contact me via Facebook (Ella M Malone). I will leave you with one last thing, a quote by Mary Anne Radmacher –
” Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying: I will try again tomorrow.”
Our sincere thanks and congratulations to Ella for taking back her life from both concussions! If you or your child has suffered a concussion and the symptoms have lingered on, Locate a Doctor in your area who specializes in the same type of vision therapy that helped Ella find her way back to normal!