Otago Polytechnic

A collaboration between Information Technology and Occupational Therapy has helped align a technological innovation with implementation to benefit people.

People who have suffered a stroke sometimes find their vision has suffered. Although the eyes themselves are not damaged, how they process what they see is affected. Under Prof Mary Butler's supervision our students have been exploring whether eye-tracking technology can be used as a tool to help with assessment and recovery of vision. Several of our Information Technology students developed a series of games that require players to use their eyes. The games get progressively more demanding on the eyes.

Occupational Therapy student Eliza Booth assessed the games' suitability to be an effective clinical tool for people recovering from vision problems after stroke. She worked with two clients on their vision rehabilitation, teaching them to use the technology and getting their feedback on it. The two clients reported that the games improved their awareness of their vision and their progress in recovery, which gave them hope. They appreciated the opportunity to be active in their recovery with eye exercises that weren't tedious!

There was also a need to consider how the technology could be incorporated into occupational therapy practice. Eliza and Information Technology student Trent Nicholson presented a seminar to about 15 occupational therapists in three departments at Dunedin Public Hospital, to show them how the technology might be used in vision recovery and get their feedback. The technology could be used in the hospital in combination with other therapies, and was seen as a constructive use of patients' time. The feedback from clients and occupational therapists will inform improvement of the games.

Image credit: Mohammed Mahdi, used under Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0

August 2020