March 17, 2017 7:26 pm
Updated: March 17, 2017 7:29 pm

Dalhousie team develops ‘prism goggles’ to help people with brain disorder

WATCH ABOVE: Global’s Steve Silva reports on a Dalhousie University study looking how to repair spatial neglect after a stroke using “prism goggles.”

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A Dalhousie University research team has created a set of “prism goggles” that shifts what the wearer sees to the right to help those with a brain disorder.

“The goggles shift your world in such a way that when you take them off, you’re actually focusing more on the left side of the world than you were before,” team member Dr. Gail Eskes, a psychiatry and neuroscience professor, said on Friday.

The device can help people with spatial neglect, which may develop after a stroke, she said.

Sufferers don’t pay attention to what’s happening on the left side of their bodies and subsequently may bump into things, or not notice food on one side of a plate and other such spatial issues.

Eskes had a team member partake in a game before an interview with Global News to illustrate the goggles’ results.

The participant threw beanbags at a target and succeeded in hitting it, or coming close, multiple times.

Next, she threw the beanbags again after putting the goggles on. Most of them fell to the right of the target.

She took off the goggles and threw the beanbags again. They mostly fell to the left of the target.

A Global News videojournalist was invited to try the experiment before her and produced similar results.

Someone with spatial neglect could use the goggles and relevant training to offset what they pay attention to, and essentially balance what they should see.

Eskes said the goggles have to be worn for about 10 minutes a day as a form of therapy.

“The brain gradually re-adapts to the regular world, so you have to keep reminding it,” she noted.

The team is developing an app, which includes a digital whack-a-mole-type game, to use in conjunction with the goggles for wearers to re-learn eye-hand coordination.

A clinical trial for the goggles is in the works. The team is also going to observe how someone’s brain operates when they’re wearing the goggles.

“We’re hoping that it’s going to have a good impact, and that’s why we’re doing this study,” Eskes said.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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