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FAQs about Vision Restoration Therapy – Help for Stroke and Brain Injury Patients

NovaVision, Inc. developed Vision Restoration Therapy to help stroke and head injury patients regain their vision, mobility, confidence, and quality of life. Learn the answers to frequently asked questions about the basics of vision rehabilitation, including how long the therapy takes, how it works, and more.

How does VRT improve vision through the brain?

The traditional view has been that the brain is hardwired in early childhood, therefore one could not expect significant recovery of function in an adult’s injured brain. Recent findings show that in fact the brain has remarkable plasticity that is retained throughout an adult’s lifetime, and hence specific therapies for both motor and visual impairments have been developed leading to significant recovery. The exact mechanism for recovery is not fully understood but it is likely to be related to pre-existing neuronal spare capacity we have in our brain.

The science behind VRT demonstrates that by repeatedly stimulating neurons that do not function properly in areas of partial injury (“transition zones”), residual vision is improved and neuronal networks, which have previously not contributed sufficiently to vision, are strengthened, a process also known as neuronal plasticity. Repetitive stimulation has proven effective in the recovery of other functions such as movements of lower limbs after stroke.

VRT is designed to strengthen the synaptic function of residual cells that have survived following acute lesions of the nervous system resulting from trauma, stroke, inflammation, or elective surgery for removal of brain tumors. By repeated activation through the course of the therapy, VRT is designed to improve the neuronal efficacy of such residual cells, i.e., patients use the program to train their impaired visual functions, and thus regain useful vision. While the patient focuses on a central fixation point on a computer screen, the VRT software controls the presentation of visual stimuli in such a manner that the transition zones receive repetitive stimulation with target stimuli whose parameters (i.e., size and luminance) are adjusted to address each patient’s unique needs. Patients are made to respond to the repetitive stimulation, such that the areas of impaired vision are repetitively activated over the course of the therapy leading to recovery of visual function.

What studies have been conducted on NovaVision Vision Restoration Therapy?

VRT is supported by 15 years of research with clinical studies published in more than 20 leading journals, of which some of the key findings can be summarized as:

  • Approximately 70% of patients experience positive outcome reflected by an increase in their visual field and studies have indicated an average increase of 4.9 degrees (Mueller I, et al., 2007; Romano JG, et al., 2008).
  • Elapsed time since injury does not seem to impact VRT therapies success. Therefore, a large historical backlog of patients can potentially be treated (Romano JG, et al., 2008).
  • Improvements are permanent and do not appear to be age or gender dependent.

The average approximate five degree improvement in central vision from VRT can make a significant difference in patients’ daily lives ((Gall C, et al,. 2008) and patients experienced a functional improvement such as improvements in their vision that impact their ability to read, walk, watch TV, and socialize comfortably.

Click here to download a summary of key studies.

How can I get more information?

To get more information on types of vision loss and how Vision Restoration Therapy can help stroke and head injury patients, please explore the following sections of our website:

VRT Directory you may also contact NovaVision by email or call NovaVision Patient Services at 1.888.205.0800.