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Special Tree Adds Visagraph to Vision Therapy Program for Brain Injury Rehabilitation

Special Tree OT Patricia Laws explains how the Visagraph is helping patients who are struggling with reading and comprehension after a brain injury.

1.            What is a Visagraph and why is this technology a good addition to our Vision Therapy program?

The Visagraph is an eye-movement recording device that uses infrared sensory goggles that tells us what the patient’s eyes are doing during reading as well as what they’re comprehending so we can more accurately target vision therapy to address deficits.   

2.            What do eye-movements tell you about a person’s reading efficiency?

It tells us if there are underlying visual issues and whether ocular motor including fixations, vergence skills are impaired as well as the comprehension portion of what they have read. Many of our younger patients utilize auditory rehearsal (saying/speaking out loud) to help them recall information.  When academics and reading are involved it often is not a realistic substitution or no longer age appropriate.

3.            What criteria determines when a Visagraph screening is needed?

As we are continuing to complete vision screenings when a patient is admitted to Special Tree and we’re integrating the Visagraph as a routine part of this process, especially for our pediatric patients in school  and all of our adults. The Visagraph also has a section that is non-verbal. It has a section with numbers for those with aphasia or other receptive language disorders, and a basic visual skills section that measures fixations/visual attention.   

4.            What typically happens following a Visagraph screening?

The results are shared by Dr. Haba, our behavioral opthamologist, and myself with each patient’s rehabilitation team.  That could include their SLP, academic specialist, any external pre-driving specialists on board, psychologist, or vocational therapist.  Dr. Haba then interprets the result and provides an individualized vision therapy prescription if needed, along with any additional testing.

5.            How does the Visagraph impact patient outcomes?

The Visagraph provides a great functional performance measure for reading and reading comprehension relative to visual skills.  Even as times have changed and technology has progressed, reading is still an essential visual-cognitive skill to have -- whether our patients are a young adult and turning to college, high school, or just enjoy reading for pleasure.  It really crosses all age groups and interests, even video gamers must read directions on the game for example. It is up to the OT working with the client and Dr. Haba to collaborate and determine what outcome is going to be achieved. The Visagraph is a great tool to help us demonstrate progress in a functional way