Understanding Spatial Neglect in Stroke Patients
Understanding spatial neglect in stroke patients is detrimental to identifying if a patient is suffering from it. Spatial neglect is a syndrome that manifests itself after stroke. Normally, the patient itself is not aware of having it, making it an often under diagnosed complication of stroke unless those often-visible indicators such as paralysis and speech impairment.
According to experts, the effect of having spatial neglect to a stroke patient is more harming than other common deficits. A stroke patient who is not diagnosed of having spatial neglect but actually has his will find rehabilitation difficult and functional independence impossible, especially since there is a gap in accurately viewing things as they are and responding to it accordingly.
Caregivers have the important role, therefore, of identifying whether their patient has spatial neglect or not, after all they are the ones mostly with them. To fully grasp spatial neglect requires understanding what actually happens from the viewpoint of the stroke patient.
The right hemisphere of the brain can get damaged during a stroke, which may lead to the patient experiencing spatial neglect. Note that not all patients whose right hemisphere of the brain is damaged during stroke suffer this syndrome. Research shows that only up to two thirds of acute right-hemisphere stroke patients demonstrate this phenomenon.
The right hemisphere of the brain is in charge of object location, mapping and estimation. This also allows us to see the left side of whatever is in front of us. So when a person suffers a stroke and this hemisphere of the brain gets damaged, the person will tend to see of what is actually before him and therefore correlate similarly.
Thus, it involves a stroke patient’s inability to report, respond, or orient to stimuli. The following symptoms are good to watch out for:
• disordered awareness of events occurring in the neglected side.• difficulty maintaining internal map pertaining to environment, objects, body parts, etc.• difficulty making appropriate facial expressions or vocal intonations to accompany their emotions or to detect that of the person before them• trouble directing actions into portions of space• slow to act or no reaction at all• attend to the left side of their body only
Stroke patients with spatial neglect generally have difficulty identifying where an item or object and/or have difficulty aiming at something.
Prism adaptation is the most promising treatment for it so far, wherein the rightward horizontal placement of patients’ visual fields are induced. But this still requires further research. Although there are stroke patients healed of of this, experience has shown that remain severely disabled due to their stroke.
Caregivers have an important role in understanding spatial neglect for ease in identifying its existence in the stroke patient. This way, the patient’s rehabilitation program will be formulated accordingly to ensure higher rates of recovery in the long-run.