Sensory Sensitivity

Help with Sound Sensitivity

Sound sensitivity is a common symptom of a concussion and post-concussion syndrome. It can be hard to avoid loud sounds such as city streets and sirens, malls, and school hallways. Going to the movies can be difficult due to the high volume of cinema sound systems. We've found that a high-performing pair of earplugs can make all these activities more doable for someone with sound sensitivity.

We highly recommend Ear Peace earplugs. They are high fidelity, meaning that they reduce the volume without reducing sound quality. Equally helpful, they come in a small tube with a keychain clip. Men can clip it to a belt loop, and women can clip it to a loop in their purse, so you always have it handy. 

When you purchase the Ear Peace earplugs through our links on this page, Amazon gives Concussion Alliance a small commission (at no cost to you) that helps support our mission of helping people recover from concussions.


Help with Visual Sensitivity

Do NOT avoid all screens and digital media

Medical advice has changed regarding this issue. The newest recommendations do say to avoid screens during the first few days after a concussion if they are making symptoms worse. However, once symptoms have lessened, it's important to get back to normal activities. Phones are an important element of staying connected socially and maintaining a sense of identity, as are video games for some people. Taking away these digital devices can promote depression and anxiety which can prolong recovery from a concussion.

Computers are an integral part of school and work-life, so the use of screens needs to be included in the recovery process. The visual strain of screens can be reduced with apps and devices, see the section below. Prolonged sensitivity to screens may indicate that the concussion has created a vision problem, see our section on Vision Therapy.

Apps that reduce the visual strain of screens

Light sensitivity is a common symptom of concussions and post-concussion syndrome. Screens present a strain on the eyes that can be reduced with apps that automatically adjust the color of the display. 

f.lux software
f.lux is a free software download recommended by vision therapists for people with concussions and resulting vision problems. The f.lux app makes the screen color match the room, so it looks like the sun during the day, and like your indoor lights (a warm color) at night, getting rid of the blue night-time glow. Daytime brightness and warmth are adjustable. It's available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, downloadable from the f.lux website. It is not available in the Apple App store or on the iPhone.

iPhone Night Shift mode
Turn on Night Shift on your iPhone or iPad. The Night Shift mode adjusts the colors of your iPhone screen to the warmer end of the color spectrum, which is easier on your eyes. The default setting for Night Shift is to automatically turn on after dark and turn off at sunrise.

You may want to customize the settings so that Night Shift is always on, in order to reduce symptoms of visual strain. A 24/7 setting can be created by turning Night Shift on at 7 am, and off at 6:59 am, for example.

Apple Support instructions for Night Shift:

There are two ways to turn Night Shift on and off:

  • Open Control Center from your Home screen. Firmly press the Brightness control icon, then tap to turn Night Shift on or off.

  • Go to Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift.2On the same screen, you can schedule a time for Night Shift to turn on automatically and adjust color temperature.

Android App: Irlen digital colored overlays for your phone

Specialized vision optometrists recommend the Irlen colored overlays for screens, and Irlen has created an Android app for phone and tablet. The app gives you 10 color choices or you can create a custom color; this color is then set as an automatic overlay on your screen, reducing eye strain. Available for $1.99 at Google Play or at Irlen.


IRLEN Colored Overlays for Reading - Sample Pack of 10 (1 of Each Color)Irlen Institute

Reduce visual strain: colored overlays for computer, phone screens, and books

The Irlen company makes acetate sheets (overlays) of different colors and sizes to lay on top of screens or the pages of a book. The different color overlays filter out different wavelengths of light which may be creating problems with visual processing. It's important to select the color that reduces strain for you. You can purchase a sample pack of colors which comes with instructions on how to determine which color helps you. If you get an exam by an optometrist specializing in vision development (see Vision Therapy), the optometrist may go through the Irlen overlay samples with you to determine which color sheet(s) you should use.

When you purchase the Irlen Colored Overlays for Reading through our links on this page, Amazon gives Concussion Alliance a small commission (at no cost to you) that helps support our mission of helping people recover from concussions.

Reduce visual strain: Slant Board to reduce the strain of reading

The Slant Board by Visual Edge, recommended by optometrists specializing in vision development, has a 22-degree angle - the optimum angle for visual processing based on research. It's light and folds flat, making it easily portable. The surface also works as a dry erase whiteboard. 

When you purchase the Slant Board by Visual Edge through our links on this page, Amazon gives Concussion Alliance a small commission (at no cost to you) that helps support our mission of helping people recover from concussions.

Visual Edge