Spatial Neglect

When after a stroke you lose awareness of things to one side of your body, you are experiencing spatial neglect. Spatial neglect is also called spatial-inattention problem, and after stroke it may be harder to detect than other changes.

One-side neglect is more common with right-brain stroke, meaning that your neglect will be on the left-side.

Signs of spatial neglect may include:

  • Trouble judging distance, such as missing a table when putting down a glass or size of objects
  • Trouble understanding position in space and rate of movement may also be challenging
  • Miss things placed on your affected side
  • Overlook people or bump into things without realizing they are there
  • Forget to put one arm into a shirt sleeve or dress one side of the body
  • Eat food on one side of your plate only
  • Read one side of a book or page
  • Have trouble finding your way around because you may only notice doors, buildings or streets on one side
  • You can only process sound coming from one side

One-side neglect can reduce your chances of independent living and increase the chances of physical injury and accidents.

One-side neglect may be due to a visual or sensory deficit caused by the stroke. Or, it may be the result of a perceptual problem. You may not be able to take in information and make sense of the world around you.

Spatial neglect will be obvious to the people around you. Your health care team members will be quickly aware of your condition, and most cases it will be diagnosed prior to your discharge from the hospital. If by chance, your spatial neglect is not diagnosed, but you experience difficulties with your daily activities, talk with your health care professional about occupational therapy. Regardless of the cause, the key to recovery is for you to use the neglected side as much as possible.