Dr. Rick Graebe: Vision Therapy Helps Athletes Too

Can Vision Therapy improve athletic ability as effectively as it boosts academic performance?

For an answer, look no farther than professional athletes Alex Rodriguez and Larry Fitzgerald.

Rodriguez, the former Yankee third baseman, has worked on his batting eye with his behavioral optometrist, Don Teig.

Fitzgerald, an All-Pro NFL wide receiver, improved his eye-hand coordination with the help of his grandfather, a behavioral optometrist.

Vision Therapy is a type of physical therapy for the eyes, brain and body.

It is a highly effective non-surgical treatment for many common visual problems such as lazy eye, crossed eyes, double vision and some reading and learning disabilities.

These same benefits can help young (and old) athletes.

If you’re looking to improve that extra 5%, move on to the next level or make the varsity team, Vision Therapy might be for you.

“If tests show deficits in visual skills, then we can improve performance,” said Dr. Rick Graebe, a Versailles behavioral  optometrist.

“The bigger the visual deficits, the bigger the sports improvement.”

Vision Therapy can help athletes of any sport by improving eye-hand speed, reaction time, spatial judgment and awareness, and peripheral awareness.

While at Indiana University, Dr. Graebe was a member of the track team, so he knows the importance for athletes of a good visual system.

For baseball and softball players, Dr. Graebe uses special glasses that simulate a strobe light and then train the brain to process visual information more quickly.

After these sessions, a pitched ball seems bigger and slower.

Increased focus power also helps batters pick up the hand position of pitchers at their release point.

Soccer players, on the other hand, need sharpened peripheral vision for improved performance.

Because the visual system works with all other senses plus balance, Vision Therapy can improve coordination by helping an athlete know where he is in space.

Improved balance, coordination and awareness in space would help athletes in all sports.

“Vision guides performance in sports and in the classroom,” Dr. Graebe said.

“Vision Therapy works because it can make you more efficient.”