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At The Stroke Of A Key: Online Therapies To Improve Sight Of Stroke Survivors


Stroke frequently affects vision, and one in five stroke survivors are said to have hemianopia, a condition which refers to partial or total loss of vision in either the right or left sides of one or both eyes. The visual problems following a stroke can severely affect the quality of life of stroke survivors. But all hope need not be lost as researchers from the University College London have developed two new web-based therapies to help stroke survivors improve their sight from the comfort of their own home.

The two websites namely, Read-Right and Eye-Search could mark the beginning of a new online era for stroke rehabilitation, helping stroke survivors with everyday tasks like reading a shopping list or identifying an item of clothing from the wardrobe, say the researchers.

In the Read-Right research application, the text scrolls across a screen and when a patient with hemianopia practices reading the moving text it is thought to retrain the brain to perform more efficient scanning eye movements, which can then be transferred to the reading of normal, static text.

The Eye-Search application is designed to improve visual search performance. The main component of this therapy is the Eye-Search therapy game, which consists of 16 levels of increasing difficulty.

The Eye-Search therapy serves as an exercise for those parts of the brain that control eye-movements, and may prove useful in relevant tasks such as finding specific objects from a clutter, or navigating more safely in an ever changing environment, such as walking down the street.

Alex Leff, lead researcher for the project at UCL Brain Repair & Rehabilitation, says: "We have shown that proven behavioral therapies for visual disorders can be translated to the internet where patients can run them for themselves. I think that this is a good way to open up access to proven behavioral therapies for many other disorders caused by stroke or brain injury."

The demo versions can be accessed at Read-Right and Eye-Search.

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