Using the BrainPort® Vision Pro for the Performance of Functional Tasks

Researchers looking for a non-invasive means to restore functional abilities to persons blinded by traumatic injury presented “Performance of Real-world Function Tasks Using the BrainPort® Vision Pro in Persons Blinded by Traumatic Injury” at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). Patricia Grant, Meesa Maeng, Tiffany Arango, Janet P. Szlyk, Rich Hogle, William H. Seiple*. The following is a précis of the presentation’s abstract.

There is an immediate need for non-invasive techniques to restore functional abilities of persons blinded by traumatic injury, including veterans injured in combat. The BrainPort® Vision Pro enables perception of visual information using the tongue as a substitute for the eye. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of the BrainPort® Vision Pro on real-world functional task performance in persons who are profoundly blind (no better than light perception) due to traumatic injury.

Eighteen participants blinded by traumatic injury were enrolled. Participants received ten hours of device training prior to independent home use for 12 months. They were assessed on three real-world skills: object recognition, word identification and orientation and mobility skills.

The results demonstrated significant improvements in real-world functional task performance immediately following training and retained after long-term use. BrainPort® Vision Pro can offer a non-surgical method for restoring functional abilities to persons blinded by trauma and can support the successful integration of blind veterans and active duty Service members into community life. With access to the BrainPort® Vision Pro, profoundly blind persons can regain or enhance independence, directly interact with their environments and regain a sense of autonomy.

Patricia Grant, Wicab, Inc.; Meesa Maeng, Wicab, Inc.; Tiffany Arango, Northeastern University; Janet P. Szlyk, President and CEO, The Chicago Lighthouse; Rich Hogle, Wicab, Inc.; William H. Seiple*, PhD, Vice President of Research, and Director, the Arlene R. Gordon Research Institute, Lighthouse Guild.