Acquired visual field defects rehabilitation: critical review and perspectives.
Pouget M-C., Lévy-Bencheton D., Prost M., Tilikete C., Husain M., Jacquin-Courtois S.
Visual field deficit (VFD) is one of the most commonly observed symptoms following brain injury. Persistent VFD and defective exploratory oculomotor scanning patterns often cause severe impairment in daily activities, particularly as regards visual exploration and reading. Homonymous hemianopia is consequently a powerful negative predictor of patient outcome. In spite of these quantitative and qualitative factors, there currently exists no consensus on rehabilitative therapy and treatment. Different approaches have nevertheless been developed, all of them having one therapeutic principle in common; repeated practice of a specific visual task, with the hope/expectation that improved performance will extend to a wide range of ecologically useful visual functions. The four main available methods aim at replacing part of the intact visual field with part of the damaged visual field (optical therapy using prisms), at partially restoring the lost visual field region (restorative therapies), at stimulating detection capacities in the blind field (stimulation or blindsight) or at substituting for the lost region by reorganizing the control of visual information processing and eye movements (compensatory therapies). This review explores the key data relative to these different approaches in terms of behavioral or imagery results. It also aims at critically analyzing the advantages and limits of each one. The importance of strict assessment in terms of deficiencies or disabilities is underlined. Finally, upon consideration of these data taken as a whole, it is suggested that efficient treatment would probably have to associate general components and more specific elements, according to what may be done with regard to other aspects of cognitive rehabilitation.