Ball to back of head turns 15-year-old Martijn’s life upside down

"If only we had discovered the Institute in Lisse much sooner"

When Martijn Jansen (12 at the time) was hit by a ball on the back of his head while playing football in October 2015, no one could imagine how that would turn his and his whole family’s life completely upside down. Martijn was knocked unconscious for a moment, but the sporty youngster had already had concussions before, so his parent’s weren’t worried when it happened. But that quickly changed when Martijn started having complaints a few days later. "He had purple circles under his eyes, vomited a lot, could not find the right words, started stuttering and occasionally seemed to be completely spaced out," said Martijn's mother, Cora Mieris. "Martijn also suffered bad headaches, was often nauseous and developed a gag reflex." 

Underestimated by GP

When he visited his GP, Martijn's complaints were initially dismissed as being a concussion. “Paracetamol and rest should do the trick, they said. "When he next visited his GP, Cora insisted he be referred to a neurologist. Because nothing showed up on the MRI scan, Martijn was referred to a rehabilitation centre. "But we were put on the waiting list and couldn’t go until January. I can clearly remember that Martijn started gagging again in the waiting room, and to avoid vomiting right there and then, he swallowed the gastric juice. That was horrible." During Martijn’s rehabilitation it became clear that no protocols had yet been defined for the appropriate treatment of post-commotional syndrome. The term post-commotion syndrome is used in the medical sector when the symptoms of a concussion persist beyond three months. The programme Martijn was instructed to follow only exacerbated his situation. Eventually, Martijn's parents did not feel confident that the rehabilitation centre’s approach would have any effect and continued searching for the best care for their son.

Deteriorating situation

Meanwhile, Martijn's situation continued to deteriorate. He developed what is called a burner in his left shoulder and could no longer tolerate smells or noise. “Any and all stimuli were too much for him in those days. We had to avoid crowded places, because otherwise he would get a severe headache and immediately become nauseous and start gagging. His body would actually ‘conk out’.” The smell of fresh treacle-waffles at the market, for instance, caused him to collapse and lose control of his muscles.” Martijn's parents desperately searched for some sort of effective treatment. "We tried for months to find a solution in conventional medicine," said Cora. Their search led them to several neurologists. 

Year out of school

In the meantime, things weren’t improving for Martijn. "We had to take him out of school for a year. He simply couldn’t manage anymore," sighs mother Cora, thinking back to that time in Martijn’s life. In the Sophia Rehabilitation Centre in The Hague, the family felt they were finally getting the right support. “The Sophia Rehabilitation Centre took Martijn's situation very seriously. They also said that they had never seen such a severe case like Martijn’s. "Martijn was given sensory integration therapy which helped him make some progress. As a result, Martijn's body became more relaxed. “Martijn also improved with special eye therapy in Ostend. Since the blow to his head, Martijn was no longer able to read." 

Reflex therapy

In the spring of 2017, the family came into contact with the Roode Draak, a paediatric neuro rehabilitation centre in Biddinghuizen. Thanks to the Roode Draak's reflex therapy treatment, Martijn was headed in the right direction. This treatment relaxes the nervous system, and so the family cautiously hoped it would help Martijn’s recovery. Martijn's parents even decided to purchase the equipment that the Roode Draak used so that they could treat Martijn at home. "We spent hours every day on his rocking and reflex therapy to relax him a bit and then strengthen the nervous system again. The Roode Draak gave us the confidence to believe Martijn would recover." 

Long search

While searching the internet, Cora came across a field called functional neurology. "That looked promising. So Martijn and I flew to a treatment centre in Orlando, Florida, for a week. The treatment there worked really well. Martijn became a bit more himself again. A cheerful, happy and sporty young fellow." After a second visit to Florida in the autumn, Martijn's parents noticed that his situation was improving, but not as much as they had hoped. Martijn's exhausting journey to Orlando and the accompanying jet lag took its toll.

Look wider

After further orientation via the internet, they decided to make an appointment at the Functional Neurology Centre in Lisse. "There they examined Martijn's situation from a much broader perspective. That hadn’t been done before. For example, they also looked at improving Martijn's digestive system, given the important relationship between the brain and the intestines. "The treatment in Lisse was successful. “Another important difference, besides this broader approach, between the treatment in America and in Lisse is that the professional specialist in Lisse attends every treatment session. He keeps an eye on everything and pays attention to the smallest details. Furthermore, treatment sessions are provided on a regular schedule and Martijn’s progress is monitored regularly." 

Committed and competent

Cora is grateful that she chanced upon the Functional Neurology Institute in Lisse. “If only we had discovered it much sooner. It has been a long quest to find someone with extensive experience in treating post-commotional syndrome. Martijn's professional specialist in Lisse is not only very committed, but also very skilled. He is a true professional, who knows exactly what he is talking about. What pleases me too is that he always checks to make sure that Martijn does not push himself too hard, because his body must first recover sufficiently. Everything goes hand and hand and is interrelated, like heart rate, oxygen level and blood pressure, which are closely monitored and measured.” 

Significant progress

Martijn has only had eight treatments so far, but Cora has already noticed significant progress. "Martijn works hard on his treatment, also exercising at home. The results so far exceed expectations." Cora says Martijn is also aware that he is making progress. "He happened to mention yesterday that he has noticed that his reflexes are improving. And we have also found that he is better able to tolerate crowded places. The time he needs to recover from his exercises is getting shorter too. We recently went laser tagging after which we went out for dinner on our daughter’s birthday. All in all, we were on the go for about three hours. That would have been inconceivable six months ago. So we can wholeheartedly recommend the Functional Neurology Institute. Anyone who would like to know more about our experience with the Functional Neurology Institute may contact us." 

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