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Acquired Irlen Syndrome: The Result of Sports-Related Concussion and Repeated Head Injury

At the Irlen Institute International Headquarters, we routinely treat former professional athletes (NFL, ice hockey, etc.) who have suffered repeated concussions or head injuries as a result of their sports participation. These clients suffer all the same symptomology (physical symptoms and perceptual distortions) that our clients who are born with Irlen Syndrome do; however, they tend to be even more severe, with more areas affected to a more significant degree. Former NFL player, Nick Bell, described his experiences after his years of repeated head injury and how Irlen Spectral Filters have helped him, in the following letter he wrote to Helen Irlen.


I feel compelled to let you know how you and your kind staff have assisted me and my family by working with me on the multitude of medical issues that I exhibit.   I cannot begin to explain how the Irlen Institute has profoundly changed my life.

As a professional football player, I experienced 15 – 20 impacts to the head per day and 25 – 30 a game while performing as a running back at all levels of the game.  It was the oppositions responsibility to stop me as a running back at all costs. 

I suffered repeated concussions, some reported, but most not because of the fear of losing my job which supported my family. You see there was only one professional league when I played, so it was not possible to pack up your gear and get another position on another team unless one of two things happened. The team did not document the head injury and therefore it would not show up on the weekly injury reports posted by all teams at the time.  On the other hand if a team was willing to overlook any “issues” your unique athletic abilities and services may have been required by another professional organization.  Nevertheless, I suffer from a multitude of physical and psychological issues as a result of playing professional football.  It should be noted when I left college and was drafted by a team I had “NO” significant issues to my physical and mental well-being with exception to a broken left wrist and a torn meniscus and posterior ligament  in my right knee. 

Today my physical issues are continuously being managed with medications provided by each area specialist and because of societies negative association to psychological problems it has been far more difficult to receive the appropriate care necessary to attempt to maintain any semblance of a normal life.  I suffer with intermittent bouts of depression, varying degrees of anxiety and paranoia, continuous headaches, with extreme light sensitivity, spontaneous loss of balance, motion sickness, and continuous severe tinnitus, better known as ringing in my ears, just to name a few. 

My psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Amen,  recommend I try to get some relief by using special glasses provide by the Irlen Institute, located In Long Beach, California.  I was reluctant at first, however today, I am a true believer.  The glasses assist immensely with several of my symptoms. My headaches and feeling nauseous, motion sickness, and light sensitivity are instantaneously gone.   I feel more relaxed, less strain and the Irlen lenses feel soothing and I feel a sense of calmness.  I humbly thank Helen Irlen and her wonderful staff for their excellent service and continuous support over these past couple of years.  Moreover, I look forward to continuously working with them in any capacity that may help others in my similar situation. Humbly and very respectfully, I remain.

Very Sincerely, 
Nickolas “Nick” Bell
Former NFL Player

Nick Bell