DREX started from humble beginnings, in a laboratory at Durham University. The problem that we were and continue trying to solve is the visual loss that stroke and brain injury sufferers experience. This visual loss is one of the most common and disabling consequences of brain damage and stroke, with the visual loss impacting on numerous everyday activities like crossing the road, avoiding obstacles, shopping, reading and driving.
The training consisted of two parts:-
- Exploration Training
This type of training presents you with a number of targets and you must find the target that is different from the rest by size, shape and colour.
- Reading Training
This training requires you to decide whether a word is a real word or non-word.
The key aspects of this training are that it is self-adapting and increases in difficulty as you learn.
Does DREX work?
In 2014 we produced some research showing how this training improved the lives of individuals who suffered from partial blindness following stroke and brain injury. 70 people took part and were divided into two groups. The first group of 35 people underwent the DREX training described above. The second group of 35 people took part in a series of other training tasks, such as mental rotation, but no tasks requiring any visual exploration. Participants took part in this training for 1 hour per day for a period of 5 weeks. We used a number of different assessments and found that both visual exploration and reading improved significantly after just 5 weeks. People who did the DREX training also thought they had improved significantly more than people in the other group, reporting increases in mood, their ability to read, and improvements in their vision generally.
These findings told us that this training was able to improve the vision of those suffering with partial blindness following stroke and brain injury, and improve their quality of life. However, dragging people into a lab in Durham every day just wasn’t convenient. We wanted to make the training as accessible as possible. Therefore we created an app available for free download from Google play and the Apple store, thanks to funding from the Academic Health Science Network and hours of assistance from Komodo Digital.
This story will continue in Part 2!