Jessie Riley Creates Kitanie Coloring Books to Stimulate Healing For Brain Injury and Concussion Patients
Saratoga Springs, New York - A brain injury can be temporary or permanent. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 1.7 million people each year in the US incur a brain injury. Having a concussion and being diagnosed with post concussion syndrome are considered "invisible illnesses," because there are no outward signs that anything is wrong with the body.
Millions of people around the world have invisible illnesses and Jessie Riley, owner of Kitanie Books, is one of them. "I got my first concussion 15 years ago in a short-track speedskating crash, and another one this past summer." Riley continues, "For the longest time, I had unexplained visual symptoms and dizziness. When my concussion doctor referred me to a Behavioral Optometrist, I discovered, ironically, that coloring was a key to my recovery.”
Dr. Howard Kushner, a Behavioral Optometrist specializing in vision therapy, understood Riley’s common, yet mostly misdiagnosed, symptoms. "Concussions interfere with the ability to process specific information in a complex array, called figure ground processing," says Dr. Kushner. "For example, many patients with concussions cannot walk in a supermarket. They become completely overwhelmed because they cannot make sense of all the visual information. Coloring helps to rehabilitate this skill because it specifically requires the individual to make sense of the complex visual information on the page."
In the weeks following a concussion, doctors teach patients about brain rest. This usually means no computer use, no social media, no video games, no text messages, and not even reading. In this digital age, brain rest can get extremely boring, especially for tweens, teens and young adults. However, one activity that is not banned is coloring.
Dr. Robert Nielson, Riley’s medical doctor and a leading concussion specialist in New York, explains the current medical consensus regarding post-concussion activity. “We’re leaning toward getting concussed patients more involved in active rehabilitation after the initial 5-7 days post injury without causing further energy imbalance in the brain. Since so much of the brain's energy is involved in eye movement and tracking, coloring is an excellent activity in stimulating the healing of brain pathways.”
In the months following Riley’s concussion, her company Kitanie Books published coloring books that help build visualization and figure ground processing skills to help with concussion recovery including "One Big Gigantic Herd of Invisible Cosmic Zebras Coloring Book." The coloring book retails for $10.95 and can be found through most online bookstores worldwide including Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com or on the Kitanie Books website.
"Spending the last couple of months coloring, as part of my 11-week vision therapy homework, has helped me to get my brain, and my life, back," says Riley. "I knew that discovering this would be life-changing for me and now I wish for everyone who has ever had a concussion, or whoever gets a concussion in the future, to know there are solutions to heal their symptoms and there is hope."