Technology helps stroke survivor regain vision deficits

Technology helps stroke survivor regain vision deficits

While practicing on the driving simulator, Janice Bashara refines her scanning and reaction skills with Kayla Hoge, occupational therapist.

The technology

Janice Bashara sets paintbrush to canvas during a recreation therapy session, creating a beautiful landscape painting. Bashara, a 79-year-old retired art teacher, came to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals-Omaha Campus in May after a stroke affected her mobility and vision. 

“That’s what an artist does. You have to be able to see,” said Janice as she explained how the stroke impacted her vision on her left side, as well as her ability to walk.  Visual field loss, like Janice described, is a common symptom after stroke, according to the National Stroke Association, affecting about two-thirds of stroke survivors. 

“I didn’t realize I had a vision problem until using the (Dynavision) and missed all the buttons on the left side,”  she said.

The Dynavision™ is one of many pieces of technology used in Madonna’s Vision Rehabilitation Program, which ranges from strengthening eye muscles to eliminating double vision to improving visual scanning to building environmental awareness.

“We can be as simple or as complex as we want,” said occupational therapist Kayla Hoge, O.T.D., O.T.R./L., C.B.I.S., the vision program leader for Madonna’s Omaha Campus. "We have things like the Dynavision and we have our BITS (Bioness Integrated Therapy System) visual trainer. We can really do some high level visual tasks where we’re incorporating cognition, eye movements, and those thinking skills to make a task more complex and a little bit more challenging and engaging for those patients.” 

Vision rehab was just one component of Janice’s individualized care plan.  In physical therapy, she also used the Lokomat™, a robotic gait trainer that allowed her to practice walking with body weight support.  

“They’re relentless on their therapy, which is a good thing. If you had a chance you would say no, but they keep you going,” said Janice, adding that she has progressed to using a walker with assistance.

Stroke survivor Janice Bashara loves painting Pacific Ocean scenes. So Jessie Eveland, recreational therapist, brought brushes, paint and canvas to a recent therapy session. “I’m passionate about living a good life,” says Janice.

Driver retaining program

Think back to when you got your driver’s license as a teenager. You may have felt a new level of independence as you thought of hitting the open road. For many patients at Madonna, regaining the ability to drive is an important goal because it allows a significant level of independence.  

Specially trained instructors use state-of-the-art technology like a driving simulator to assess basic skills such as reaction time, visual and perceptual skills and movement.

When individuals improve, they can move to the training car equipped with hand and foot controls, and train with adaptive equipment.   

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