Smartphone Application Tracks Head and Eye Movements to Assess and Treat Neurological Injuries or Disorders
This specialized smartphone application tracks eye and head movement to assess patients’ vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) and oculomotor functions. The vestibulo-ocular reflex is an essential reflex that coordinates eye movements to occur in the opposite direction of head movements in order to stabilize vision during head and body movements (e.g., the ability to see images clearly while walking). The vestibular system works in tandem with the central nervous system to provide spatial orientation and contributes to our sense of balance to help the body coordinate movements. Abnormalities in vestibulo-ocular reflex eye movements may affect up to 17 percent of the population and can lead to vertigo/dizziness, nystagmus, ataxia, and nausea. Available vestibulo-ocular reflex testing devices require large, expensive, specialized equipment and software, making home and bedside treatments infeasible. Treatment is challenging for patients to implement independently without the feedback component usually given by healthcare professionals, further making it difficult to test or treat at home. Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a portable, easily accessible vestibulo-ocular reflex and oculomotor testing application that can be implemented on a smartphone or other portable computing device. This testing application allows a normal smartphone to register the patient’s head movement and ability to see targets during these movements, resulting in a low-cost, portable vestibulo-ocular reflex testing device.
Check out this video of the prototype.
Treating and testing vestibulo-ocular reflex function and oculomotor control in children and adults
- Uses smartphone or other portable computing device, increasing portability and convenience of testing and treatment
- Adapts to patient’s smartphone, providing a low-cost option for home or field VOR and oculomotor testing
- Gives accurate feedback on reflex eye movement and oculomotor functions providing a tool for treatment as well as assessment
Professionals typically test both dynamic visual acuity (DVA) and oculomotor function to determine the condition of a patient’s vestibulo-ocular reflex function. This specialized software application adds DVA, vestibulo-ocular reflex and oculomotor testing capabilities to any modern smartphone or related computing technology with a compatible display, providing patients and professionals independent access to vestibular-ocular testing and treatment. Similar to a standard eye exam, doctors can test a patient’s static visual acuity (SVA), a component of DVA testing, by asking a patient to identify a multitude of optotypes on the phone screen. A DVA assessment also includes identifying a series of optotypes but with the addition of a head movement along an axis at a minimum rotational rate, engaging the vestibular system. This phone application tracks head movement performed by the patient to ensure that the patient’s head is moving at an adequate velocity profile prior to presenting optotypes. The patient can then provide feedback regarding what they see via an on-screen gesture, keyboard, or voice recognition input. The comparison of the smallest optotypes correctly identified in both the DVA and SVA tests determine if the patient has a defect in his or her vestibulo-ocular reflex functions.