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Online Rehabilitation for Hemianopia

One in five stroke survivors are left with hemianopia, a partial or total loss of vision to one side following a stroke, which can severely affect their quality of life. Thousands of stroke survivors with visual problems could improve their sight from the comfort of their own home using two new web-based therapies.

The online therapies, developed by UCL and funded by the Stroke Association, are designed to help stroke survivors with visual problems perform everyday tasks like reading the newspaper and identifying individual objects.

Two websites, Read-Right.ucl.ac.uk and Eye-Search.ucl.ac.uk are the first web-based rehabilitation techniques to be introduced in the UK and could mark the beginning of a new online era for stroke rehabilitation.Patients with hemianopia find reading difficult, as they are unable to see the full page. Some patients abandon reading altogether, and other are unable to return to their jobs as they cannot read quickly enough.

The website Read-Right, which has bee trialed by 194 stroke survivors to date, helps them to improve their reading by encouraging them to read test as it scrolls across a screen. It is thought that this retrains the brain to perform more efficient scanning eye movements, which can then be transferred to the reading of normal, static text.

Many people with hemianopia also find it incredibly difficult to find specific objects, particularly in a busy scene. For example picking up a mobile phone from a range of objects on a table and dialing a number can be very frustrating for some people.

The website Eye-Search helps stroke survivors to find objects through a series of online games that retrain eye movements.

Dr Alex Leff, Lead Researcher for the project at UCL Brain Repair & Rehabilitation, says: "We have shown that proven behavioral therapies for visual disorders can be translated to the internet where patients can run them for themselves. I think that this is a good way to open up access to proven behavioral therapies for many other disorders caused by stroke or brain injury."

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What is Hemianopia

Hemianopia is a partial or total loss of vision to one side following a stroke. Patients with hemianopia find reading difficult, as they are unable to see the full page. Many people with hemianopia also find it incredibly difficult to find specific objects, particularly in a busy scene.

Fact

One in five stroke survivors are left with hemianopia.

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