Posted on March 6, 2013 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 18 of 36 in the series Zachary

Double Vision after TBI : Zach Part Eighteen 

Brain injury is thought too much of as strictly a cognitive and behavioral disability. Yet, everything that a human does is controlled by our minds and the central nervous system.  When a brain suffers a severe injury, the deficits are not going to be strictly higher brain functions. They will also undoubtedly impact things such as movement and senses.  One of the most common physical impacts after TBI is the vision system.  Seeing is a complicated process involving allowing light to be properly focused as it hits the inside of the eye, then transmitting that focused data to the brain where it must be perceived. An injury to the optic nerve, to the muscles that focus the eye or to the part of the brain that perceives and translate that signal, will impact vision and as a result may incur double vision after TBI.

It is said that hitting a baseball is the most difficult skill in sport. A 30% success rate will make someone a star.  From the most famous of Boston Red Sox’s, Ted Williams:

Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.

Hitting a baseball requires practice, it requires patience, it requires extraordinary coordination.  Yet at its core, it requires perfectly tuned vision.  Zach no longer had that.  He suffered from double vision

The other thing we didn’t  talk about was your senior season of baseball


Did you play?

I did.  I did and I almost I got a hit.

Well, I was on the sidelines the whole year because, well first off, my coach is a jerk.  And he wouldn’t have wanted (to put me in). But he actually put me in.

So I went in and I got like three at bats.  One time I got hit, I think.  And I struck out once and I think somebody caught one of my hits, the third time.

But, I like killed this line drive.  Like they were screaming and it was foul and I was like: “Oh.  Like, you know, it would have been nice to have one hit.”

So you had three at bats and you hit the ball two other times but you didn’t get actually, get a base hit?


Would that have been like the last game of the season?

Yeah.  I was captain of the baseball team and again I didn’t play.

Were you able to play at all in practice.

Oh, I still participated in practice.  I would try to catch fly balls but my depth perception’s off so when I look up, I see two balls and I don’t know where it’s going to go, you know.

Gloves on both hands?

I didn’t tell you – I had double vision, too.

Did you have the double vision after TBI right away?

Right, right away.  Yeah, right away. And it was really bad.  I had objects on both sides, I would be looking over here and over there.

Do you still have double vision after TBI?

I had eye surgery. Right before I went to UMass.

So you played, you tried to play baseball in the spring with double vision after TBI?


When did you discover, when did they identify that you had double vision after TBI?

It was in rehab at Spaulding.

Why did they let you play baseball when you were seeing two baseballs with your double vision after TBI?

Because I wanted to.  And they weren’t going to tell me I couldn’t.

What happened in the diagnosis/treatment that they let you continue to play, with something that can cause another head injury?

We thought it would correct itself because a lot of times it does.   So we were waiting and waiting and waiting and we would rather it correct itself.  Then it never did.  I played legion ball too my last year and I couldn’t, couldn’t because I saw two of everything.

Did you have a bunch of exercises before the surgery?  Were they giving you that eye exercises for your double vision after TBI?

Yeah, yeah.  It, well, you know.

Pencil pushups?

Yeah and that doesn’t work.

So tell me about the eye surgery you had for double vision after TBI? 

Well the eye surgery I was sedated. The guy went in there and he took off one of the eye muscles that was pulling my eye back.  He unattached it and then he reattached it lower.  So now I see one.  I see two now, like if I strain to look at something like I see two of whatever it is so.

You did play baseball at, at UMass with your double vision after TBI?

I didn’t.  My first year, first couple days, I wasn’t ready to play.  I couldn’t play.  So, I went to Coach Stone.  I was like coach I can’t, I can’t do anything.  And he was like well you could be the manager, like I’m assistant coach type of thing.  I went oh, that’s cool.

So I tried it out.  Between classes, my brain must have been swollen like.  I just had a constant headache, had to take a nap.  I just couldn’t do it.  So I went to him – “I can’t do it.”  And then I’m like “you will see me on the field sometime.”

You know, never happened.


Next in Part Nineteen –

Leaving Home for College After Severe TBI

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447