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Australian Football Player Finds Relief From Concussions

After sustaining 6-8 concussions in one season of playing Australian Rules Football (AFL), Matt Spargo was left with debilitating headaches.

While in high school, Matt took numerous hits to the head while playing Aussie Rules Football — which does not include wearing a helmet. He was always cleared by doctors to keep playing, and told that everything was okay.

One day when he went for the ball, he was hit on the cheek and knocked onto his back. He felt sick and dizzy, yet the doctor again cleared him to play — telling him that everything looked fine, after asking him what day of the week it was, and having Matt track the doctor’s finger with his eyes.

He went back in the following week and took a knee to the side of his head. This time he had to literally crawl off the field, and knew that something wasn’t right.

This began his struggle with constant headaches.

He was only 16 years old at the time, and was struggling to finish high school in the middle of his struggles. He wasn’t suffering only from headaches, but he had a loss of feeling down his left side, slight loss of intricate motor control, and his pupils would constantly oscillate back and forth from big and small. He couldn’t do math or listen to music, and his heart rate would rapidly increase when he stood up, causing him to be dizzy and fatigued.

When he went to see a neurologist, he was told that he was making it up after his brain scans came back clear. An ophthalmologist told him there was definitely something wrong with his eyes, but didn’t know how to help him.

Four years later he was still struggling with his symptoms, so Matt decided to come to America to see Dr. David Traster at South Florida Integrative Health for a week long intensive in Miami, Florida. 

Dr. Traster did an extensive exam, including balance testing and VNG testing for his eyes. Matt said his eyes were the biggest problem for him because he couldn’t read, and would walk into things. 

“When we first examined Matt’s eye movements, Matt had what we call a ‘left esophoria.’ An esophoria is an eye that has a tendency to move more inwards towards the nose compared to the other eye, and can cause eyestrain, headaches, blurred or double vision, perceptual movement, and difficulty concentrating and comprehending reading material. We also found that Matt had an ‘upbeat nystagmus’ in the dark when he couldn’t see, which is typical in a central vestibular system injury. Nystagmus is a condition where the eyes move rapidly and uncontrollably. Patients who experience nystagmus may also have dizziness, vision problems, and balance problems,” stated Dr. Traster.

Matt had been wearing prism eyeglasses for the past few years, and after working with Dr. Traster, he longer needed to wear his glasses. Dr. Traster was also able to help Matt get his heart rate (dysautonomia) under control, and his balance restored.

Dr. Traster gave Matt exercises to do at home to continue the improvement he experienced, and Matt still works with his chiropractor back home. Matt is now working at the local University, and he feels he is back to 90%, with just a few little lingering issues.

Matt’s parents are thrilled with the results that they have seen in him. They are frustrated that none of it was picked up earlier by the numerous doctors he saw in high school, but are happy that they finally found Dr. Traster.

Because of his experience, Matt has decided to go to chiropractic school in hopes that he can provide help to others like he has personally experienced.

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