Dr. Patrick Pirotte was the Behavioral Scholar in Residence at the New England College of Optometry in March of 2016. The College annually invites a distinguished behavioral optometrist to spend several days on campus during. The Scholar meets with students, faculty and administration, gives lectures to students in their classes and participates in a symposium that is open to the general optometry community. This annual program is jointly sponsored by the Rosborough Behavioral Optometry Studies Endowment Fund and the college. Dr. Pirotte’s visit was partly funded by COVD as a component of their Tour de Optometry program. Dr. Pirotte is a graduate of the University of Kansas at Wichita and the Southern California College of Optometry. He is a Fellow of COVD.
Dr. Pirotte’s lectures were based in the subject of neuroplasticity and its application to vision rehabilitation, both in vision related learning problems and in the treatment of patients with traumatic brain injury. In the course of the lectures Dr. Pirotte cited his own experience as a disabled learner who had to drop out of college, and his rehabilitation by a behavioral optometrist who made it possible for him to achieve educationally. It was that experience which set him on the path to practice behavioral optometry. During the period that he was out of college Dr. Pirotte studied music and became an accomplished jazz pianist.
As a part of Dr. Pirotte’s lectures he emphasized the proliferation of research papers in recent years that provide scientific underpinning to the principles and practices of behavioral optometry that have long been a part of the protocols that were established by the pioneers beginning in the 1950’s. He cited as one example a research paper from the Mayo clinic asserting the importance of saccadic eye movements in reading. In a dramatic example drawn from his own practice Dr. Pirotte showed a video of the improvement in posture and gait achieved immediately with the application of yoked prisms for a young man who had sustained a severe concussion in a fall on the ice during a hockey game.
As part of the program Dr. Pirotte presented a lecture on vision and learning for the general optometric community as well as the faculty and students of the College. Following the lecture Dr. Pirotte participated in a symposium on the future of optometric practice and the economics of a behavioral optometry. He was joined in this session by Dr. Bud O’Leary, who has a private practice in Reading Massachusetts and Dr. Richard Laudon of the New England College of Optometry. Dr. Laudon was an organizer of Dr. Perrot’s visit as well as of this symposium.