Abstract

Importance: Vision impairments are common after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Little evidence exists to assist clinicians with effective interventions for impaired oculomotor skills in people with TBI.

Objective: To pilot a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of oculomotor treatment in TBI rehabilitation.

Design: An impairment-based oculomotor protocol was compared with an activity-based standard of care in a two-group RCT. Participants were masked to assignment.

Setting: Inpatient rehabilitation.

Participants: For 1 yr, 138 people with TBI, ages 18–65 yr, were screened. Twenty-six were eligible; 6 declined. Inclusion criteria: oculomotor impairment. Exclusion criteria: inpatient stay <6 wk, blind, no functional arm use, unable to follow a three-step command, attention <30 min, or in another clinical trial.

Intervention: Participants were randomized into an experimental group (n = 10) receiving the Six Eye Exercises protocol or a control group (n = 10) receiving a standard-of-care protocol for 30 min/day, 5 days/wk, for 4 wk. Oculomotor and related functional impairments were measured at baseline and posttreatment.

Outcomes and Measures: Measures were chosen before the start. Primary outcome measure: Craig Hospital Eye Evaluation Rating Scale for oculomotor status. Secondary measures for functional status: King-Devick Test, Delis–Kaplan Executive Function System Trail Making Test: Condition 1 Visual Scanning, Modified Nelson–Denny Reading Test, and Subjective Vision Symptom Scale.

Results: Sixteen participants finished. Fatigue was the primary reason for withdrawal. No other negative effects were noted. Selected outcome measures captured positive improvements in both groups.

Conclusions and Relevance: Study findings suggest conducting an appropriately powered RCT to evaluate efficacy of oculomotor treatment in this population.

What This Article Adds: Oculomotor dysfunction seems to improve during inpatient TBI rehabilitation with remedial treatment. Best practice in occupational therapy has not yet been established. An appropriately powered RCT could positively contribute to the evidence available to clinicians.

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