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New Low Cost Therapy May Benefit Stroke Patients With Vision Problems

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Stroke patients suffering from decreased vision could have a cost-effective therapy at their disposal soon. This therapy could potentially enhance the lives of stroke patients suffering from eye problems.

A study conducted by researchers from the University of East Anglia and University of Glasgow, tested the efficiency of the visuomotor feedback training (VFT) when treating visual disability.

People who suffer from "visual neglect" may not have awareness of the right or left side, depending which side the stroke impacted their brain. To elucidate, if the stroke impacted a patient's left brain then the person would have difficulty in processing information on the right side.

Stroke can also take a toll on a person's visibility and some of the resulting defects include decreased vision and double vision.

Decreased vision is a result of the damaged fibers which are responsible for the transmission of visual information from the eye to the brain. When double vision occurs, both eyes do not work together like a pair. This makes it difficult to focus on specific things due to blurred vision.

Important Findings Of The Study

The study was conducted on 20 stroke survivors suffering from visual neglect. Out of the 20 patients, 10 were given VFT while the others received control training.

The study reveals that VFT has a long-lasting impact on visual neglect even when an individual undergoes a therapy session for just an hour.

The researchers observed that after receiving the treatment, the subjects were able to detect many items from their brain's neglected side and the improvements lasted for nearly four months after the therapy.

The treatment primarily involved lifting, balancing, and grasping wooden rods which were of different sizes.

The idea behind this technique is that by a repeated grasping of the rods, it will still remain well-balanced. The patient while lifting it would receive a different source of feedback from their senses. As a result, they would be assisted in reducing the visual neglect.

However, as of now this technique has not been implemented in clinical use.

"The therapy produces long-lasting improvements in stroke patients with chronic visual neglect. This highlights the need for further research into the use of VFT, which we have shown may significantly improve aspects of patients' daily lives," says Dr. Stephanie Rossit, the lead author of the study.

Rossit noted visual neglect was a serious disorder and termed the rehabilitation of patients as extremely challenging, especially since there are no remedial techniques available at present which can be endorsed for clinical use.

The study establishes that VFT is a cost-effective therapy which may be considered for large-scale implementation. It can also be conveniently taught to stroke patients suffering from vision problems and they can use it whenever they want to.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal Neuropsychological Rehabilitation.

Photo: Timothy Krause | Flickr

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