Category: Technology (e.g. robotics, assistive technology, mHealth); Clinical Practice (assessment, diagnosis, treatment, knowledge translation/EBP, implementation science, program development)
Objective : To understand the experiences of the first recipient of a functioning cortical vision prosthesis and how his experiences differed from those of other subsequent vision prosthesis recipients.
Design : Case report.
Setting : An in-person, in-depth, semi-structured interview occurred in the individual's home 14 years after his participation in an experimental vision prosthesis project conducted by William Dobelle.
Participants (or Animals, Specimens, Cadavers) :
The individual, who was totally blind, was the first, and one of the only, participant to receive a functioning implant that produced visual perception. Additionally, he was seen as the "poster boy" for the study during its early stages and as such had inherently unique interactions with study personnel and subsequent participants. He was 76 years old, in good health at the interview.
Interventions : Not applicable
Main Outcome Measure(s) : This study is qualitative; therefore, the main outcome is his self-reported experience.
Analysis revealed notable differences in the individual's background and evolution as a blind person, his motivation for participating in the Dobelle project, and his expectations for the functional efficacy of the implant in comparison to other recipients. More specifically, vision restoration and improved visual function were not his primary motivators or expectations. Additionally, he demonstrated optimal psychological functioning as it related to his quality of life before, during, and after his participation.
Findings demonstrate this individual was unique compared to other vision prosthesis recipients; more specifically, in his altruistic motivation. His participation in the Dobelle study was in service of a larger, selfless goal and likely enhanced his resilience and promoted optimal functioning during his enrollment. This suggests altruism may be a strong predictor of one's experience in an experimental clinical trial and a key characteristic to consider during participant screening and selection.