The Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association International is an interdisciplinary group of professionals dedicated to providing patients who have physical or cognitive disabilities as a result of an acquired brain injury with a complete ocular health evaluation and optimum visual rehabilitation education and services to improve their quality of life.

BLOG: Sports vision crossovers in new technology

Charles Shidlofsky
Charles Shidlofsky

by Charles Shidlofsky, OD, FCOVD

In part 1 of this blog, I covered some new technology designed for testing or training visual and cognitive function.

In this installment, I’ll address the many new tools from the sports vision world that also have therapeutic applications.

To start with, a number of saccadic fixation devices are used in the sports world to test and train peripheral awareness and reaction time, but they can also be used to work with patients who have homonymous hemianopsia. One of these is the Binovi Touch (Eyecarrot), a retooled version of the Wayne Saccadic Fixator (no longer available). It incorporates a wall-mounted lightboard that is controlled wirelessly via tablet. Multiple lightboards can be connected for expanded testing and training in the office. The company’s Binovi Pro (eye care professionals) and Binovi Coach (patients) allow doctors to assign a customized home therapy plan that patients can do on a tablet or smart phone.

The FitLight Trainer (FightLight Training) is a customized eye tracking system that comes with eight lights that you can place on the wall, on the floor or in a sequence. The lights come on in a random sequence, and you can tap the light or swing in front of the light with a hand, foot or sports equipment such as a tennis racquet, golf club or hockey stick, making this tool very versatile. Fitlights can be used outside or inside and placed in different locations to mimic physical activities or focus on a particular part of the visual field.

The Sanet Vision Integrator (Home Vision Therapy) is another type of light board that has an available balance board so patients have to work to maintain balance while using the light board. There are multiple therapy tools that combine speed and span of reaction and recognition with saccadic eye movements. One of my favorite such activities is the tachistoscopic trainer. The user hits words on the screen in the order in which they lit up, which allows us to use it as an antisuppression tool.

Neurotracker is a 3D, visual exercise that trains dynamic attention, focus, processing speed and peripheral awareness. Developed at the University of Montreal (Canada) through Jocelyn Faubert, PhD, MSc, NeuroTracker's patented multiple-object-tracking (MOT) technology is being used in a variety of professional settings around the world to help clinicians deliver more precise training routines, with measurable improvements to their patients. It is an outstanding tool for training visual attention and other perceptual-cognitive skills for sports, mental performance and brain injury. As the user progresses, tracking the moving balls gets faster and more challenging.

The Senaptec Sensory Station offers a wide range of sensory training activities, including a lightboard, MOT, go/no-go activities, and more. The testing aspect is geared toward athletes, but some of the training options, such as the go/no-go activities, in which the user hits the board only when a particular color is shown, are excellent for brain injury patients. This same company also makes Senaptec Strobe glasses, which I have found very helpful in working with patients with homonymous hemianopsia. Each lens in the glasses is divided into quads. We can strobe just one or two of the sections corresponding to the active fields to make the patient more attentive to other areas.

Just recently, at the 2019 International Sports Vision Association (ISVA) conference, the AMP (Achieve Maximum Potential) System from Visual Cognitive Technologies was previewed. This is a highly versatile platform for visual neurocognitive and motor training, with features of interest whether your focus is sports vision, neuro-optometric rehabilitation or traditional vision therapy. AMP has both touchscreen and virtual reality (VR) components and gives the user the ability to tune the stimulus presentation to the needs of a specific subject. It allows fully immersive multisensory experiences including, for example, the ability to track the body and to track balance in real time while performing training activities. VR tools for creating binasal occlusion, blur, patching, cognitive loading and many others are available in the AMP System.

These are just a sampling of the available tools that cross over from the world of sports vision to brain injury treatment.

For more information:

Charles Shidlofsky, OD, FCOVD, is clinical director of Neuro-Vision Associates of North Texas, a multi-office specialty clinic serving children and adults. He is a member of the medical staff at Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation-Frisco and Fort Worth, Texas. Shidlofsky also serves as a consultant for several Texas-based rehabilitation centers, including the Centre for Neuro Skills and Pate Rehabilitation. In addition, he is secretary/treasurer of the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association and a founding member and vice president of the International Sports Vision Association.

Disclosure: Shidlofsky reports no relevant financial disclosures.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA) unless otherwise noted. This blog is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the professional medical advice of a physician. NORA does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products or procedures. For more on our website and online content, click here.