Category Archives: Spatial Neglect

Recovery For Stroke Patients With Spatial Neglect

By Charles Cheow

Recovery for stroke patients with spatial neglect may take longer than normal especially if the patient is unaware or in denial of his or her condition. It is important for family members and caregivers to be wary of symptoms.

Spatial neglect is a condition resulting from stroke wherein the patient suffers cognitive defects resulting to the inability to report, respond, or orient to stimuli, emotional processing dysfunction and abnormal awareness of deficits.

When a patient suffers a stroke, they suffer injury to the brain that may lead them to experience spatial neglect. However, this condition often are experienced by people who suffer injury to the right cortical hemisphere of their brain, which often leads to left hemiparesis. Different effects result depending on the area of the brain that is affected due to the injury.

Spatial neglect affects a minimum of 13% of patients who suffer stroke. The danger lies in not being able to tell off if the patient is affected by it as sometimes the patient denies experiencing it.

A patient suffering spatial neglect often sees only one area of what’s in front of him. This makes it hard for the patient to “aim” at an object before him, for example. In another example, a patient puts on makeup to one side of the face, thinking that she applied it to her whole face.

Once detected, recovery for this condition can begin. Patients with spatial neglect often undergo cognitive rehabilitation for treatment, which usually applies specific exercises or changes to the patient’s environment. In general, the patient is experiencing issues of “disassociation” physically and emotionally.

The type of treatment to be applied is determined after undergoing tests like the Fugl-Meyer scale to assess motor function, balance, and sensory details; behavioral inattention test (BIT); and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale to assess intellectual functions.

Rehabilitation often pertains to motor and neuropsychological treatments that may include learning how to balance (seated or standing), “target” an object whether to hold it or get it or throw at it, and other exercises for 4 days a week.

Research has shown that recovery for patients with spatial neglect only becomes effective if this is applied on the first 3 months after a stroke. According to specialists, “recovery of visual field deficits…is usually complete 4 weeks post stroke, whereas recovery of visuo-spatial neglect continues up to 12 weeks”.

Specialists, however, note that the independence of patients with spatial neglect is unattainable despite recovery of memory, speech and language, and cognitive abilities. They actually often remain severely disabled, which is still a puzzle to specialists as of date.

Recovery for stroke patients with spatial neglect definitely takes time and close attention from family members and caregivers. It also requires understanding of the limitations of recovery that the different treatments can only give to avoid unnecessary expectations, especially on the part of the patient.

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