A big part of our Vision Therapy program is home exercises. In Vision Therapy, newly acquired visual skills are reinforced and made automatic through repetition and by integration with motor and cognitive skills. The key word I like to focus on is repetition. Seeing our Vision Therapist once a week is great and recommended, but the work still has to continue at home. Home exercises should be done at least 4-6 times a week for best results, and it is through repetition of these exercises the visual system will be greatly improved.
A big question we get asked is: "How can I make these home exercises fun?" Great question! In today’s blog we are going to go over some great tracking exercises.
First, why do we do tracking exercises? Most of our patients have Ocular Motor Dysfunction (OMD), in easier terms a "Tracking Problem." That means the eyes are unable to follow a moving object smoothly. This diagnosis does not mean there is a physical problem with the eyes, but it is disconnect between the eyes and the brain. As most of you know when doing the tracking exercise that is prescribed, you will see your child's eyes jerk, lose focus, or have jumps and quivers. This is because of the OMD. Some symptoms your child might experience when having OMD is losing place when reading, eyes easily fatigue, and often get headaches with near activities. Through different tracking exercises, we will teach the eyes to track better, which creates a better pathway of communication to the brain.
Here, we give the usual tracking exercise where you follow a pencil top going vertical, horizontal, and circular motions. This is a great simple exercise but can get boring for your child. Let’s change it up and make tracking exercises more fun! For these fun exercises, you will need an eye patch, lots of reminders to keep the head still, and exercises that involve a moving target for them to focus on. Make sure each eye gets equal time with the patch, and do same exercise with patch off for the eyes to have time to work together.
Ways to make more fun:
- Use a light up toy with lots of colors to track with.
- Use a lollipop to track with. Then they can eat it after!
- Soccer and other ball sports
- Search and Find Games: Where's Waldo, I-Spy, Hidden Pictures
- Marsden Ball: First, attach a ball on a long string. Then hang it from a high place. Make it about 3-4 feet above the floor. Now you're ready! Have the child lie on the floor looking up with patch on left eye, and move the ball in wide circles, and in horizontal lines while the child is following the object with just their eye (no head movements!). Repeat with right eye patched and then no patch. Switch up the ball with more objects to make new and exciting.
- Eye Can Learn website has some great tracking exercises.
- Mazes: Print off the computer and use bright colors to find your way out.
Try one of these this week! Let us know how it goes. Next week we will blog about Convergence exercises. We have a lot to look forward too! Happy Tracking!