Oculomotor rehabilitation for reading dysfunction in mild traumatic brain injury
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Aim Considering the extensive neural network of the oculomotor subsystems, global damage as a result of traumatic brain injury could compromise precise oculomotor control, thus causing reading dysfunction. The aim of the present thesis was to evaluate comprehensively the effect of oculomotor-based vision rehabilitation in symptomatic individuals with respect to nearwork and reading and having a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). A wide range of laboratory and clinical parameters related to reading involving vergence, accommodation, and version were tested. Methods Twelve subjects with documented mTBI and nearvision-related symptoms participated in the study. A cross-over, interventional experimental design was used involving true “oculomotor” training and “SHAM” training. Each training protocol was performed for 6 weeks, 2 sessions a week, 45 minutes of actual training per session. During each training session, all three oculomotor subsystems (vergence/accommodation/version) were trained for 15 minutes each in a randomized order. All laboratory and clinical parameters were measured before (baseline) and after true oculomotor (post-OMT) and SHAM (post-SHAM) training. In addition, nearvision-related symptoms were assessed using the Convergence Insufficiency Symptom Survey (CISS) scale. Lastly, subjective attention was measured using the Visual Search and Attention Test (VSAT). iv Results Following true oculomotor training, there was a marked improvement in various laboratory and clinical parameters assessed. Over 80% of the abnormal parameters found at baseline testing were found to significantly improve with training. Dynamics of vergence and accommodation, along with clinically assessed maximum amplitudes, improved markedly. Versional saccadic eye movements demonstrated improved rhythmicity and accuracy. These results together had a significant positive impact on overall reading ability. The improved reading-related oculomotor behavior was reflected in reduction of symptoms. In addition, subjective attention was found to also improve with true oculomotor training. In contrast, none of the aforementioned parameters changed with SHAM training. Conclusions Oculomotor-based vision rehabilitation had a strong positive effect on reading-related oculomotor control. This oculomotor learning effect is suggestive of intact neuroplasticity mechanisms in a compromised brain following TBI.