Posted on November 23, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 11 of 17 in the series Rita

Visual Deficits after TBI: Rita Part Eleven

As my conversation continues with Rita’s mom we talk about some of the other physical issues she exhibits including her visual deficits after TBI. Her visual deficits after TBI hamper her in ways such as not being able to use a computer because she can not see it.

So now she’s getting physical therapy three times a week.  Is she getting any speech therapy?


Can she communicate at all?

Oh yeah, oh yeah, she communicates fine.

She talks?

Oh yeah.  Yeah.

Does she talk normally?

No.  No.

Why isn’t she receiving speech therapy?

You know, I don’t know.  I know Medicaid doesn’t cover that.  I have been doing it myself.  We’ve been doing it ourselves. So that’s what we’ve been doing.

What resources are available for you to self-administer this type of therapy?

I have no idea.

Have you used the Internet?

Sandra Honeycutt:      Oh the Internet, yes.  I was thinking of community things.  Yeah, oh yes definitely the Internet, oh yeah, yeah.

What are finding on the Internet now?

There’s some, just different ideas of different games to play, that kind of thing.  There’s also this thing you can get.  Everything I do is for free too, I’m not going to pay for anything but they have different, programs where you can just tap things that you want.  But really my daughter, you know, we got that but she can’t tell what she wants.

She was quite computer literate before she got hurt?

She was.

What did she do before she got hurt?

She was an administrative assistant for one of the top people at Bearing Point.

Today can she use a computer?

No, no.

Rita Not Able to Use the Internet Because of Her Visual Deficits after TBI

Do her hands work well enough?

Yeah, yeah.  The problem is her vision and we just recently met with, just yesterday, met with a doctor works with prisms.

What is the problem with her visual deficits after TBI?

Well prisms they put them in lenses and the light it makes objects move any way you want them to move, like if you can’t see over here you can put the prism in to bring it in.  Same thing.  Like one of her eyes might drift up a little bit so you can bring the vision down.

With her visual deficits after TBI is she legally blind ?

No she can see.  She can see.  In fact I said we’re going to get glasses, you know, she goes I can see fine.  I don’t want glasses because I’m going to look like a dork is what she said.  So, she had glasses before though but she doesn’t remember that.

One common problem after brain injury, especially brain injury which involves frontal lobe damage, is to convince the survivor that they should utilize therapies and strategies that will help them get better.  One would hope that Rita gets to the point where how she sees is more important than how she looks.

Do they feel she’s not a candidate for cognitive therapy at this point? 

No one has said anything to us.  I didn’t even know about cognitive therapy really.

If you mean by that like I have a workbook where, you know, we, I repeat like five sentences and she has to repeat it after me.  She can add, she knows the time tables.  You know, she knows, she knows a lot.  She really does, she knows all the letters, all the sounds.  You show her pictures, numbers, letters.

I mean she can read.  She has trouble, I mean if you just said one word she can read it but as far as reading like a magazine or something that’s (something she can’t do.)

Is that because of the visual deficits after TBI?

Yeah, I, I think so.  I do because it, it’s there.  I mean it really is.  It, it’s just yeah the vision so I’m hoping new glasses.

Has she been given a formal diagnosis for her visual deficits after TBI?

Well we just went and saw this super duper specialist who’s the one of only 40 people in the country.

Is he a neuro-ophthalmologist?

No I did go see a neuro-ophthalmologist at USF and he said that her both left quadrants were the problem.  She can’t see out of both of these sides and it was irreparable.  There was nothing –

Does she have cerebellum or brain stem damage that may have caused the visual deficits after TBI?


Where is the damage?

I don’t know.  Don’t know.  We’ve never had any kind of like assessment of anything, you know, just get out of the hospital and it’s all up to you.

We must find impose some rational methodology in our medical care so that this kind of thing doesn’t keep happening.  Our doctors and hospitals can’t keep saying: “get out.”  If we can’t afford to do anything but leave it up to the families, then we must develop better internet resources so that left on their own, families can find meaningful solutions to these problems.

In today’s world, no mind should be trapped because the visual interface is flawed.  If I can ask my $400 cellphone a question and get a reasonable response, we must be able to find ways to allow Rita to interface more directly with the outside world to help with her visual deficits after TBI, even if that outside world is primarily a virtual one – the internet.

Next in Part Twelve – No Gate Keeper Means no Treatment for Catastrophic Brain Injury

By Attorney Gordon Johnson


About the Author

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