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Patricia Grant, Meesa Maeng, Tiffany Arango, Janet P Szlyk, Rich Hogle, William H Seiple; Performance of Real-World Functional Tasks Using the BrainPort® Vision Pro in Persons Blinded by Traumatic Injury. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(8):4762.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
There is an immediate need for non-invasive therapy to restore functional abilities of persons blinded by traumatic injury, including Veterans injured in combat. The BrainPort® Vision Pro enables perception of visual information using the tongue as a substitute for the eye. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of the BrainPort® Vision Pro on real-world functional task performance in persons who are profoundly blind (no better than light perception) due to traumatic injury.
Eighteen participants (mean age=42 ±12 years) blinded by traumatic injury were enrolled. Participants received ten hours of device training prior to independent home use for 12 months. Participants were assessed on three real-world skills: object recognition (10 trials), word identification (10 trials), and orientation and mobility skills (pass/fail) at baseline, post-training, and 3 and 6 months after training.
Group mean total scores from baseline to 6 months for household object recognition were 1.4±1.1, 7.8±1.8, 8.4±1.5, and 8.5±1.3, mean total scores for place setting object recognition were 1.4±1.6, 6.2±3.3, 7.8±2.2, and 8.5±1.5; and for word identification mean total scores were 0.0±0.0, 1.9±3.3, 3.3±3.9, and 2.6±3.9. A one-way repeated measures ANOVA demonstrates significant improvement in all three skill areas (p’s<0.001). None of the participants could complete any of the orientation and mobility tasks at baseline without the device. Following training 83% of participants identified a doorway, 56% followed a line without veering off, 61% avoided obstacles, 67% walked through a doorway without collisions, 50% identified a window, and 50% of participants could identify a sign in a hallway. Performance rates were consistent at the 6 month time point.
These results demonstrate significant improvements in real-world functional task performance immediately following training and retained after long-term use. The BrainPort® Vision Pro offers a non-surgical method for restoring functional abilities to persons blinded by trauma. In addition, the device can support the successful integration of blind Veterans and active duty Servicemembers into community life. With access to the BrainPort® Vision Pro, profoundly blind persons can regain or enhance independence, directly interact with their environments, and regain a sense of autonomy.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2017 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Baltimore, MD, May 7-11, 2017.
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