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Rebounding Aerobics for Vision Therapy

Theodore S. Kadet, O. D., a vision therapist in Issaquah, Washington, has found the techniques of re-bounding aerobics to be valuable for using the eye muscles to correct contractions of the cornea. Dr. Kadet said, "Rebounding creates an awareness of using vision as a primary guiding system for movement. The inability to use vision efficiently as a major sentry system to the brain can be a primary cause of learning disabilities in children and adults. I am confirming what other authorities have found before me. Our treatment in optometry of these visual perception dysfunctions help Mother Nature along in the development of vision and vision-auditory interaction systems."

Vision therapists, spearheaded by notables in the field such as A.M. Skeffington, O.D., G.N. Getman, O.D., and D.B. Harmon, Ph.D., under the auspices of the Optometric Extension Program, provide clues to visual difficulties and their correction. Rebound exercise is a main therapeutic approach. It supplies an environment where the perceptual system matures at amore rapid rate.

In explaining the visual therapy. Dr. Kadet said "We concentrate on such areas as visually guided body movements; hand-eye coordination; visual size, space, form and direction relationships; visual-auditory integration; figure-ground relationships; visualization and memory skills. The rebounding device is used to bring about efficient visually guided movement of the entire body. Rebounding aerobics gives magnificent feedbacks to what the child did, thus bringing about a rapid awareness as using vision to guide movement.

"Using the rebound unit often helps to bring about directional awareness, especially right and left. Confusion in these areas is a result of letter and word reversals. The device has found a welcome home in the offices of developmental optometrists using vision therapy. It is one of the most effective techniques to bring on visually guided movement pattern," concluded Dr. Kadet.

Dr. G.M. German also stated, "Clinical and research studies of rebound exercise indicate that the rebound unit can provide experiences that influence a child's academic success. Optometrists are recommending rebound exercise for the improvements of the total visual and body control."

Dr. Shankman, who recently incorporated rebounding aerobics as part of his visual training program, added, "When I work with patients in optometric vision training, I want them to be able to identify a stimulus and to be aware of any change in the stimulus. Using the body to begin vision training is the best way to start the individual being aware of when there is a change, plus the degree of the change in the action stimuli. The goal of body awareness is to have the patient become aware of the stimulus regardless of its strength, when the small-est change takes place in strength, or change in what it represents."

Use of the rebounding device permits total body awareness of where you are in space. It helps you gather clues from your surroundings so that a habit pattern builds. The habit of knowing where you are in space from clues provides depth perception. You see better and interpret the information coming to your brain through your eyes more effectively.

"In rebounding, you have to learn to use your muscles and do it quickly," said Dr. Shankman. "If you don't learn muscle coordination on the rebounding device, you will face a severe consequence of falling and possibly hurting yourself. Whenever there is a consequence you will learn faster. Rebounding requires that you keep your balance, and you use your eyes for this purpose. By rebounding the same way, using the same exercise positions time after time, you are bound to come to a saturation level where your eyes won't improve anymore. But changing the exercises so as to force yourself into new balancing positions will have the eyes continue their improvement. You get the benefit from rebounding for the sight and mind by relating the objects around you to the space which you are occupying as you bounce up and down. For this purpose, it's better not to watch television while you are rebounding, because you may ignore the rest of the visual field around you."

Dr. Shankman suggested, "Eye improvement might speed up by rebounding to the beat of a metronome. Have the metronome change its rhythm, and you will then get a -'thinking' experience by conforming to the metronome's sound change in your bouncing. You will have feedback from knowing you are rebounding in rhythm correctly."

Raymond Gottlieb, O.D. of Santa Monica, California, another visual therapist, agrees with Dr. Shankman about the rhythm correction of rebounding aerobics. Dr. Gottlieb said, "One of the characteristics of people who suffer from inefficient vision is the lack of rhythm. The rebounding device gives rhythm to the brain from the systematic bouncing. This allows the eyes some externally generated rhythm to fall back on and thus become more coordinated. Your bounce acts like a metro-nome. You become the metronome yourself.

"Physiologically, you have all of these proprioceptive inputs hitting the thalmus, which is the section of the brain receiving sensory inputs, especially auditory and visual information. Getting multiple inputs, the thalmus organizes the visual readings at a particular moment in time. Also, with the greater circulation stimulated from rebounding, you will have more energy for seeing. There is circulation of the cerebral spinal fluid in the brain, enhanced lymphatic circulation, and better blood circulation. Any toxic circumstances possibly interfering with the vision centers will be dissipated," said Dr. Gottlieb.

"The way the rebound unit is used is a factor, too" he added. "If a therapist acts as an assistant and observer, the rebounding participant will get a lot more benefit out of his bouncing. The therapist helps to monitor progress and himself adds to the feedback from the rebound unit. The observer can show you if your mind wanders by remarking upon an incorrect answer when you produce one while bouncing and reading an eye chart. Re-bounding alone, you're not likely to take sufficient responsibility for doing a procedure or eye exercise correctly. Then, you won't learn, or you'll learn poorly,"Dr. Gottlieb said.

In working with the rebounding apparatus, a visual therapist helps the patient monitor his own errors and his own perfection. The visual therapist is really at-tempting to teach a process of seeing and a way of using your brain to assimilate all the information coming into it. It's not mechanical as is done in structural optometry, but rather you are taught a learning style.

Dr. Gottlieb recommended that you try a test to see if you have a coordination or learning problem. If you can bounce on all fours, the two knees and two hands bearing your own weight on the rebound device, and can spring up and down without bucking, you indicate that you have it all together - excellent coordination. Dr. Gottlieb discovered this self-test when he worked at a mental hospital attending to retarded inmates. They could never bounce on all fours.

There are other visual tests and exercises to perform while you're bouncing on the rebound unit. For instance, Dr. Shankman suggests that you could mount the front page of a newspaper on the wall and read smaller and smaller headlines as you rebound. Or, you could read from your own eye chart.

For another exercise, try observing the corner of a room where the ceiling and wall meet and follow where they join all across the room with your eyes as you bounce.

These various suggested techniques are possible ways to strengthen your eyes as you rebound. How? Why? Because the eyes are comprised of body cells, and every cell in the body is basically similar to every other. They come from the same egg and sperm source, have the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), know their separate jobs, and read that part of the blueprint of life that has something to do with their job. The cells of the eye know what messages they're supposed to send and receive.

The up-and-down activity of acceleration, deceleration, and gravity develop a greater impact on the eye cells at the bottom of the bounce where every cell is being exercised, stimulated, and doing its job to the best of its ability. Physical cellular strength builds in the millions of eye cells at the bottom of the rebounding bounce.

Furthermore, rebounding permits better aqueous circulation to take place in the eye to feed the cornea, the iris, and the lens. Unlike the rest of the body, the aqueous is a puddle of nutrition for the eye cells. This clear solution has the same chemical makeup as the lymph. It contains nutrients, enzymes, metabolic wastes, and other constituents. An aqueous that circulates more effectively gives you a cleaner and more nourishing environment for the eye cells to do their job.

Rebound exercise eliminates stress, which is a primary reason for people to wear eyeglasses. Like crutches, the lenses reduce the effort for the eye muscles.

When you are stressed, you close down, shrink in, and don't flow with the situation. But Dr. Gottlieb told how he uses the exercises of rebounding to overcome stress. He said, "If you are involved in a stress situation, you follow a characteristic pattern for dealing with that stress. Rebounding exposes the pattern to you and to the therapist, if you're being assisted, and a positive reward is created by the bouncing exercise. You then get to learn your stress pattern very well, thus allowing you to break it and get rid of the stress."

Becoming aware of the movement of your eyes as you bounce, just like a piano player becomes aware of his fingers, tends to give the eyes strength and clarity. You then learn how they can improve. The multiple combination of all these aspects of seeing do provide the basis of better sight and vision.

Regardless of the condition of your eyes, unless they are sightless, they can be improved beyond the vision you currently have. The end result of your applying visual therapy in the form of rebounding aerobics is that better perception comes upon you. Perception is the way in which you look at life and act or react to it. Improved perception has you approach life in a more up-lifted way so that you must become a happier person.

In an interview especially for this book, Ann Hoopes, co-author of Eye Power, The First Report on Visual Training (Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), told us of her thirty-year-old son, Peter, who became one of those people experiencing improved perception and found himself a happier person.

We'll let Ann Hoopes tell about her child: "My son Peter didn't finish college because he had a terrible time reading and had one injured eye. He finally gave up and turned to carpentry and bartending and other things. His eye disability ran his life because there wasn't anything he could do in the white collar world. He couldn't read easily. Over the past ten years he noticed he was getting progressively unable to read, and he felt dizzy at times and confused. His problem is that he has one eye that sees near and one eye that sees far.

"This is a not-uncommon chronic problem. As a matter of fact, former President Jimmy Carter has this eye problem, which sets up a syndrome in people's thinking when they suffer from this. It makes it difficult for them to make decisions because one eye pulls the brain in a near direction and the other eye pulls in a far direction. This is why I believe President Carter followed so many zigzag foreign policies," said Ann Hoopes.

"Peter, too, has been unable to make decisions about his life. For about five months, now, Peter has been in visual training, and he can finally read comfortably, has taken courses and gotten his real estate license, done some clerical jobs on the side, gone jogging and swimming every day, and is getting his life in order. Peter is filled with a kind of energy that he has never experienced before.

"Twice a week for a year, my son went for visual training to Stanley A. Appelbaum, O. D. of Bethesda, Maryland. He also does some home visual exercises for twenty-five minutes a day and he does a lot of daily physical exercise. Also, he takes good nutrition including many vitamins," Mrs. Hoopes concluded.

In summary, the eyes are semi-muscular organs that must be exercised like any other muscle in the body. The techniques for visual therapy are quite specific eye muscle movements for conditioning the eyes to see more effectively. Often times, the visual therapy includes rebounding aerobics, since rebounding exercises every muscle in the body including the eyes.

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