Studies on Spacial Neglect After a Stroke
Spacial neglect is a medical term that describes the loss of part of the vision. It usually occurs on the side opposite of the stroke side. A person basically looses all peripheral vision. It is almost like that side does not exist. In fact, stroke patients often must be taught to turn their head to see that part of a room. Sometimes it seems like the side that is being neglected does not exist to the patient. If you want to see what it is like, close on of your eyes and see how hard it is to navigate around the house. There is one difference however, when you are doing this, you know that part of the picture is missing. Stroke patients do not know that part of the picture is actually missing, so they move around as they have for years.
Recent studies at Kessler Foundation and Seton Hall University have found that 30-50% of all stroke survivors suffer from this problem. Many times, it seems to go quietly and often ignored. Kessler and Seton Hill are trying to develop mew ways to test for spacial neglect. We currently have the person look at the "tester" and hold up our fingers in the peripheral vision field. The patient then tells us how many fingers we are holding up. They believe there is a better way.
Spacial neglect is not a problem with the person's vision, it is rather from injury to the brain. As one can imagine, it can cause many problems. Most of the problems are associated with injury (falls, collisions, etc.) The temporary solution seems to be helping this patients recognize that they are not seeing the whole picure. They must learn to turn their head to see what is coming on the affected side.
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