Often a stroke survivor, or survivor of traumatic brain injury, has a loss of visual field perception, often termed Hemianopsia. They may be unable to see to one side, or they may have blind spaces in their visual field. Many eye doctors still believe that this visual field neglect never improves after a stroke. However, in my experience, exercises that promote eye, neck and inner ear coordination do in fact help reduce the visual deficit.
Below are some exercises that I frequently use with patients in the clinic.
EXERCISES FOR VESTIBULAR-OCULAR-COLIC COORDINATION
Exercises should be completed at least 3x/day for a minimum of 10 days. It is important to have adequate water/hydration before and after each exercise set.
The GOAL OF THESE Exercises is to maintain your visual focus on the target, despite either the target or the head moving. Exercises should first be done SITTING. After all exercises are easy to complete in sitting – be sure to do the full 10 days – then you can progress to doing them in STANDING.
Briefly close the eyes and rest between each Exercise Set. If they cause extreme dizziness (greater than 5/10 intensity) then a reassessment should be done. All exercises are initially done for 10 days with only horizontal or vertical movements. Diagonal patterns should not be added until the other directions are easy and cause no dizziness.
* IF the stroke survivor cannot hold the card(s), then another person can hold the card(s)*
EXERCISE ONE – STATIONARY HEAD / MOVING TARGET
Hold a playing card or small object arms length from your eyes, nose height. Keeping your head completely stationary, move the card/object slowly from Right -> Midline -> Left -> Midline -> Right (repeat 3x) .
While the card/object is moving keep your eyes focused on it , but your head still.
After a brief rest, keep your head completely stationary, move the card/object slowly
Up -> Midline -> Down – Midline (repeat 3 x)
EXERCISE TWO – STATIONARY TARGET / MOVING HEAD
Hold a playing card or small object arms length from your eyes, nose height. Keeping the card/object completely stationary, move your head slowly from Right -> Midline -> Left -> Midline -> Right (repeat 3x) .
While your head is moving keep your eyes focused on the card/object.
After a brief rest, Keep the target completely stationary, move your head slowly Up -> Midline -> Down – Midline (repeat 3 x)
EXERCISE THREE – TWO STATIONARY TARGETS / STATIONARY HEAD
Hold a playing card or small object in each hand, arms length, nose height with approx. 3 feet spread between hands. Keeping your head still, rapidly look from left to right focusing on the card/object on one side then the other (10x each side)