At Madonna, we provide intensive and comprehensive rehabilitation programs for individuals recovering from a neurological illness or serious injury. Vision issues are common among our patients across all levels of care, especially those who have survived traumatic brain injuries or strokes. Addressing an individual’s ability to see clearly early in the rehabilitation program can improve results for many patients because vision relates directly to balance, attention and interaction with people and objects in one's environment.
“Vision is our most dominant and crucial sense for overall function, so it is important as individuals are learning to regain independence in self-cares and mobility that we incorporate vision rehabilitation to optimize their recovery,” Aubrey Adkisson, an occupational therapist, said.
Adkisson said Healthy Vision Month allows us to highlight the importance of vision in our daily life. We take in so much information through our eyes, which is ultimately processed by many areas of the brain, that even small deficits in vision can play a large role in our quality of life. Research is now consistently showing that an upwards of 80% of patients who survive a brain injury are faced with visual deficits that significantly impact their daily activities.
Neurological visual deficits most commonly encountered by patients include double vision, impaired visual perception and partial vision, all of which can slow the recovery process. Madonna’s vision rehabilitation program uses state-of-the-art technology to help patients of all ages with visual impairments achieve positive outcomes to increase their access to their home and community environments. The Bioness Integrated Therapy System (BITS) is a large computer screen designed to help with eye strain, visual fatigue, and difficulty with concentration, cognitive deficits, attention, memory and eye tracking. The screen can be adjusted by a therapist specially trained in vision rehabilitation to accommodate a patient's individual needs. The Dynavision 2000 is a computerized board used by therapists to improve peripheral vision, reaction time, arm coordination and the ability to find objects to one side or in the environment. The Interactive Driving Simulator is a software program that mimics characteristics of an actual vehicle including a steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedal. The software offers complex, unpredictable traffic situations to challenge patients’ vision and cognition.
Dr. Tanner Gates, one of the neuro-optometrists at Madonna, said if visual functioning is not being considered, there is a large area of the recovery process that is being missed that could potentially lead to future issues that may lead to repeat hospital stays. This month provides us the opportunity to review healthy vision materials to further educate ourselves on different ways to protect our eyes. Madonna’s interdisciplinary team of therapists, nurses and on-site neuro-optometrists are constantly researching new and innovative resources to enhance our vision rehabilitation program and provide hands-on training to staff.
“Madonna is the only rehabilitation hospital system in the country, that I’m aware of, that offers such in-depth and extensive neuro-optometry and vision rehabilitation therapy services to patients on multiple campuses,” Gates said. “We have been providing this specialty care for 10 years now and continue to help many brain injury patients get the rehabilitative vision care they need.”
Patients experiencing vision issues are referred for vision rehabilitation where they first receive a vision assessment by the neuro-optometrist. If appropriate for treatment, the neuro-optometrist will work with the occupational therapist on the treatment plan, which may include the use of specialized equipment, such as prism glasses, and teaching adaptive strategies to address vision impairments. These techniques and equipment are shared with other members of the patient’s rehabilitation team so they may be integrated into additional treatment sessions to enhance learning and success. The neuro-optometrist will monitor the patient’s progress through re-evaluations and adjust the vision treatment plan according to the patient’s needs.
The vision clinic is available on both an inpatient and outpatient basis. For more information on Madonna’s vision therapy program, click here.