Magdeburg, Saxony-anhalt Germany (PressExposure) September 02, 2008 -- Columbia University Medical Center researchers have demonstrated, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), that brain activity was increased in stroke survivors who underwent Vision Restoration Therapy (VRT), a rehabilitative treatment that helps these patients recover lost vision. The data have been published in the journal Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair on April 1, 2008.
Researchers, led by Randolph S. Marshall, M.D., M.S., associate professor of clinical neurology and acting director, Division of Stroke and Critical Care at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, examined the fMRIs of six patients aged 35-77 with vision loss on the same side of both eyes (homonymous hemianopia) caused by stroke. The therapy is based on visual stimulation, which the patient performs daily at home on a dedicated computer device. The fMRI data showed increased activity in visual processing areas of the brain as patients learned to detect stimuli in the borderzone between the seeing and non-seeing fields. This enhanced activity was identified one month after beginning treatment and suggests that the brain is responding accordingly.
"This study is encouraging because the fMRI technique allowed us to see and compare the activity levels in specific regions of the brain before and during Vision Restoration Therapy. After examining the images, the increased activity levels demonstrate progress associated with the treatment," said Dr. Marshall. "Based on these initial results, we will continue to investigate the relationship between the imaging findings and the degree to which vision is recovered."
The findings underscore the growing scientific evidence validating Vision Restoration Therapy. For stroke survivors with impaired vision, these data further show that VRT may help them regain lost sight - and ultimately help them reclaim their independence.
Developed in Germany VRT is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat vision problems in people who have been left partially blind due to stroke or brain trauma. Customized treatment is created from a comprehensive diagnostics that map the seeing and non-seeing areas of vision. Patients perform the therapy daily at home for six to seven months, gradually improving their vision through the repeated detection of light stimuli directed at the border between the seeing and blind areas of the visual field.
Vision Restoration Therapy is currently offered in U.K. in Bristol by Janice Juul, an optometrist with a lot of neurological experience (70 Alma Road, BS8 2DJ Clifton Bristol).