Guest poster Dr. Val Neufeld, Lead Occupational Therapist and Remedial Vision Rehabilitation Specialist from Centre for Neuro Skills from Dallas, TX brings us her expertise on the importance of vision screenings in neurorehabilitation:
It is not news that visual and visual-perceptual impairments associated with brain injuries are prevalent, with estimates as high as 90% (Jacobson & Marcus, 2011).
Visual and visual-perceptual deficits can significantly influence participation in meaningful activities. People with neurological deficits that experience visual impairments may have disabling symptoms such as difficulty with functional ambulation placing them at a higher risk for falls, decreased ability to complete activities of daily living (ADLs) such as getting dressing, grooming and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) such as grocery shopping or reading a medication label, and may develop higher instances of depression.
Basic functions of vision and deficits related to cognitive issues
If we consider that there are three basic functions to vision: visual acuity, visual perceptual skills, and oculomotor control (Warren, 2013). People with neurological deficits frequently experience visual complications as a result of their injury/condition (Cockerham et al., 2009). These visual deficits include visual field deficits (46%), convergence insufficiencies (31%-47%), oculomotor deficits (10%-30%), and diplopia (6%-9%) (Suchoff et al., 2008). Vision deficits such as convergence insufficiency, binocular deficits, suppression, etc., also have a negative impact on daily activities, and should be screened for sooner rather than later.
When you take into account how much of day-to-day life is processed by vision, it is fair to assume that vision deficits resulting from neurological issues have the potential to delay recovery and outcomes and decrease quality of life.
Lack of vision screening in the neurorehabilitation world
I have taken a significant amount of time reviewing the literature in order to provide varying levels of insight into this manner. The literature on vision deficits alone is robust yet why is there a lack of vision screenings in the neuro-rehabilitation world?
Whether patients’ injuries are mild or severe, many experience problems that interfere with their ability to complete functional tasks. Patients also frequently face worsening cognitive dysfunction after neurological disorders, brain injuries, etc.
As therapists in the neuro-rehabilitation setting we must consider all the areas of deficits, look at the internal and external factors affecting functional performance, and also take into account the end goal based on the patient’s preference and our own knowledge and skill level.
- Valentina Neufeld: Occupational Therapist & Remedial Vision Rehabilitation Specialist
If you enjoyed this article on neurorehabilitation, maybe you’ll find the following of interest as well:
- The Importance of Vision Screenings in Neurorehabilitation - September 15, 2020