The Research and Evidence Behind Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Therapy
Patients who have experienced a brain injury or other neurological insult often suffer from debilitating visual symptoms that make it difficult or even impossible for them to read, drive, and, in some instances, even walk without assistance. Research has shown that neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy is a safe and effective way to help these patients regain function.
Below, we briefly explain what neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy is and why it’s a respected and well-founded avenue of treatment.
What Is Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Therapy?
Neuro-optometry is a subspecialty of optometry that helps patients with neurological dysfunctions regain several of the visual and oculomotor skills needed for daily living. The goal of neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy is to increase a patient’s independent functioning in a multisensory environment.
A neuro-optometrist is trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of visual and perceptual disorders, including but not limited to:
- Double vision
- Acquired strabismus
- Binocular vision dysfunction
- Convergence or accommodation problems
- Visual perception deficits
- Traumatic visual acuity loss
Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy is suitable for patients of all ages who’ve survived a stroke, have a systemic neurological condition, or sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) of any degree.
Research Supporting the Effectiveness of Neuro-OptometryOrganizations like the American Optometric Association, the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association all provide helpful information about the benefits of neuro-optometry.
Medical professionals of other specialties also recognize the importance of neuro-optometric rehabilitation and regularly refer patients for treatment. This is due to well-documented positive outcomes that patients experience after undergoing a personalized neuro-optometric rehabilitation program. Below are a few examples.
- A small-scale study published in the Journal of Optometry (2018) found that 100% of the participants experienced improved eye movement following nearly 10 hours of neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.
- A 2019 study published in the journal Disability and Rehabilitation examined the medical records of more than 3,000 patients who sustained a mild brain injury and underwent neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy. The researchers concluded that this form of visual rehabilitation is a ‘promising intervention’ and that all patients who suffer from a brain injury should have their vision evaluated by a neuro-optometrist or other vision professional.
- In 2017, the Journal of the American Academy of Optometry published a study concluding that visual rehabilitation for post-concussion patients was successful in the vast majority of the 218 cases examined. Some visual problems that were addressed included convergence insufficiency, accommodative insufficiency, oculomotor problems, eye movement problems and binocular problems.
- Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can also benefit post-TBI patients who have reading-related visual dysfunction. A 2014 study by the journal NeuroRehabilitation found that after just 6 weeks of treatment, patients with mild TBIs had an improved reading rate and a decrease in visual symptoms.
- The journal Acquired Brain Injury (2019) published an article that thoroughly explains the importance of neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy for patients who have visual symptoms related to TBI’s, autoimmune disease, viral infections and vestibular dysfunctions.
If you or a loved one has sustained a brain injury or has any neurological condition that impacts vision and ability to function, a neuro-optometrist may be able to help. Some patients are referred to a neuro-optometrist as a last resort after seeing little to no results from other forms of therapy.
Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy should be a first stop and not a last resort. To schedule a functional visual evaluation, call Eye Health Centre today.Our practice serves patients from St. Albert, Edmonton, Spruce Grove, and Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta and surrounding communities.