August 16, 2007
1 min read

Rehab program improved neural activity in patients with stroke-, trauma-related vision loss

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Stroke and traumatic brain injury survivors showed increased brain activity after undergoing a vision rehabilitation treatment, according to a study by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center.

Randolph S. Marshall, MD, MS, and colleagues used functional MRI to evaluate brain activity in six patients aged 35 to 77 years who developed homonymous hemianopia after suffering a stroke or traumatic brain injury. Each patient completed the Vision Restoration Therapy program (NovaVision), which is based on visual stimulation that the patient performs daily at home on a dedicated computer device, according to a press release from Columbia University Medical Center.

The functional MRI data showed increased activity in the visual processing areas of the brain 1 month after treatment began, as patients learned to detect stimuli in the border zones between their seeing and non-seeing fields.

"This study is encouraging because the [functional] MRI technique allowed us to see and compare the activity levels in specific regions of the brain before and during Vision Restoration Therapy. After examining the images, the increased activity levels demonstrate progress associated with the treatment," Dr. Marshall said in the release. "Based on these initial results, we will continue to investigate the relationship between the imaging findings and the degree to which vision is recovered."

This study is published online ahead of print on the Web site of the journal Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair.