Always looking for kindred spirits in the medical world, behavioral optometrist Rick Graebe of Versailles reaches out to colleagues from different disciplines because, well, that’s the condition of the human body – interdisciplinary.
That’s why Dr. Graebe spoke at the state osteopath convention in Lexington in June, discussing the value of Vision Therapy, a kind of physical therapy for the eyes, brain and body.
Osteopaths, who practice manual medicine that focuses on total body health, were open to his message, Dr. Graebe said, because many osteopaths follow the same non-traditional path as him.
Their treatments focus on causes of body dysfunctions or diseases instead of treating symptoms with medicine or surgery.
In addition to traditional medical training, osteopaths receive training in the ability to manipulate the muscles, joints and spine.
Therefore, they often see patients with movement and balance issues, many of whom are recovering from brain injuries.
Dr. Graebe has treated similar patients thanks to his relationships with local neurologists and physical, occupational and speech therapists.
A few years ago, therapists referred a patient to Dr. Graebe who suffered severe injuries in a car accident when he was 10.
Having reached a plateau after a decade of other therapies, the patient started Vision Therapy with Dr. Graebe.
He entered treatment using a walker. A year later, he walked without assistance.
How? That was the subject of Dr. Graebe’s talk to the osteopaths – the often overlooked importance of vision’s ambient system.
The focal system is about what the eyes see and is all that gets tested at a general eye exam. The ambient system is about spatial relationships, balance, orientation and sensory integration.
Obviously, if the cause of Dr. Graebe’s patient’s inability to walk without assistance was because of a severed spine, Vision Therapy would be useless.
But VT can treat functional deficits and sensory issues because the eyes, brain and body all work together.
If the ambient system never developed properly or is damaged, Vision Therapy often can restore proper function.
Because VT has shown to be effective in treating a myriad of functional issues from reading problems and ADHD to anxiety and clumsiness, Dr.
Graebe has connected with UK psychiatry residents who have visited his practice the past few years.
These residents often become triple Board certified, in family medicine, pediatrics and psychiatry, so they too are inter-disciplinary.
“We’re all smarter than any one of us,” Dr. Graebe said. “My mission is to draw from other disciplines because that’s what helps my patients best.”