|Audio-Visual Rehabilitation @ Home|
| Posted on 27/05/2014 - 08:00|
The idea is to provide people affected by visual deficit with a rehabilitation paradigm that can be used at home exploiting the acoustic modality and well-established audio-visual multi-sensory enhancement.
The challenge of the present project is to test the effectiveness of an audio-visual rehabilitation paradigm that can be used by patients at home in complete autonomy. Behavioural studies have shown that space and time congruency of visual and acoustic stimuli improve visual detection in patients affected by low vision, hemianopia and neglect. This methodology might be useful even for the audio-visual realignment of future visual prosthesis with the acoustic system (e.g., artificial retina). The opportunity to choose where, when and how much rehabilitation to undergo will most likely enhance rehabilitation outcomes, while saving patients and caregivers the inconvenience of physically reaching specialised centres.
Presently, visual rehabilitation protocols are mostly based on the visual modality that is compromised. Today's technical low cost solutions allow for the easy implementation of an audio-visual rehabilitation paradigm that can be used by patients at home and takes advantages of the acoustic modality. By using a large LCD TV screen, a device with an ad-hoc verbal interface (e.g., a PC) and four speakers placed on the screen’s corners (two for azimuth and two for elevation) patients will be able to undergo rehabilitation autonomously. In collaboration with the local centre (UIC of Trento) the project aims to compare improvements in two groups of patients (i.e., pre and post tests): those undergoing classical rehabilitation and those trying the proposed audio-visual approach.
Target group and social impact
By 2066 it is predicted half a million people in the UK will be over the age of 100, and this reflects European trends. Alongside a general physical and sensory decline, ageing is associated with the onset of peripheral visual deficit, as well as the conditions affecting the brain such as hemianopia and neglect. The decrease in mobility plus the presence of a visual deficit restrict people's chance to exploit recent improvements in research because very often services are only provided in specialised centres. The opportunity for patients to carry out their rehabilitative exercise autonomously is likely to optimise the outcomes, while also improving patients' self-confidence and social welfare and will reduce the overall stress for them and their caregivers.
Competences of the applicant
The applicant received his PhD degree in Cognitive and Brain Sciences at the University of Trento (2011) in the field of multi-sensory interaction. His studies have been focused on the effect of audio-visual stimulation on people affected by low vision. He is now a research fellow at the department of Information Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Trento.
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