Why is doing the homework so important?
Home activities are an integral part of our Vision Therapy program. The pioneer clinicians in the field noticed that when home practice was done on a regular basis, more profound and lasting changes in visual behaviour were noted.
We ask our patients to do their home practice on the days they do not come in for their in-office sessions, allowing one other day off per week. Thus, the plan for patients coming in once a week is for five days of home therapy to be done between in-office sessions. Over the years clinical observations have shown that patients who regularly got at least 4 days of practice between their weekly in-office sessions made good progress through the program. The patients’ who worked less often that this, moved through the program more slowly and made fewer overall gains from the program. Some people who tried to compensate for missing several home sessions by practicing for one or two longer periods were not as productive as those who did regularly spaced short homework sessions.
Scientific work that supports these observations comes in the form of an article by the Israeli neurologist Avi Karni, titled “Adult Cortical Plasticity and Reorganization”. His research was done primarily in areas of vision, and he was testing the traditional thought that our brain becomes less plastic (changeable or moldable) as we get older. In-office vision therapy sessions are an intense, highly-controlled environment where conditions are arranged to provide patients with the opportunity to acquire new visual skills. While new skills are learnt during these sessions, Karni found “Performance continued to improve over days and was maximal after 5 to 10 consecutive training sessions spaced 1-3 days apart. Once a maximal level of performance was reached, most of the gain was retained over months and even years”.
The key to embedding the new visual behaviour or skill is the 5-10 consecutive practice sessions with no more than 3 days between each of the practice sessions. You may note that during the vision therapy program some activities are assigned for only one week, however this is rare. Most activities will be assigned for two or more weeks. Those activities that are done for much longer are modified as the program proceeds.
In vision therapy we arrange conditions to provide you with the opportunity to have the necessary meaningful experiences to acquire a more efficient visual system. We hope that the activities are made meaningful and that you can see why the activities are being done. With the proper support of regular home practice you can make huge changes which will last a very long time. Reference: Karni, Avi, “Adult Cortical Plasticity and Reorganization”, Science & Medicine, January-February 1997, PP 24-33.