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Head Trauma Can Spur 'Spatial Neglect' Similar to a Stroke
  • Posted December 28, 2023

Head Trauma Can Spur 'Spatial Neglect' Similar to a Stroke

Stroke patients often suffer from "spatial neglect" -- an inability to see things on the side of the body opposite to where the brain injury occurred.

Now, new research suggests that spatial neglect can also affect folks who've had a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The study makes clear that screening for spatial neglect “is warranted in TBI rehabilitation as well as in stroke rehabilitation programs,” said study lead author Peii Chen.

She's a senior research scientist at the Kessler Foundation, in East Hanover, N.J. The nonprofit focuses on rehabilitation medicine.

In a Kessler news release, the researchers noted that spatial neglect affects many stroke survivors. It's more common among folks who suffered brain damage to the right side of their brain (up to 45% of patients) compared to the left (up to 23%).

Not being able to comprehend or navigate space on one side of the body can "can lead to prolonged disability after brain damage by impairing daily functions and reducing the effectiveness of rehabilitation therapies," according to the news release.

The new research tracked the symptoms of over 3,600 stroke survivors and 266 head injury patients treated at 16 rehabilitation hospitals across the United States.

More than half (58%) of stroke survivors experienced spatial neglect, Chen's team found, as did 38% of TBI patients following their injury.

"We found that spatial neglect affects a substantial percentage of people with TBI,” Chen concluded.

The study was co-authored by Kimberley Hreha of Duke University in Durham, N.C., and was published recently in the Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine.

Chen believes that “by extending timely treatment for spatial neglect to the population with TBI, we may improve their rehabilitation outcomes, optimize their recovery and lessen the burdens of caregivers.”

More information

For more information on spatial neglect, head to Dalhousie University.

SOURCE: Kessler Foundation, news release, Dec. 21, 2023

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