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What is anosognosia?

Sometimes after a stroke, people are not able to recognise the effect that it has on them. So you may not know that you’ve lost movement in your arm or leg, for example. This is called anosognosia.

If you experience this kind of confusion, it’s more likely to be with movement or visual problems, although it can apply to other problems too. People who have neglect are more likely to experience anosognosia.

Anosognosia can be quite distressing, because you may not understand why you’re in hospital or why people think you can’t do things for yourself. We don’t really understand why it happens, but it can be quite common, especially in the very early stages after stroke. It can also come and go, so you may not experience it all the time. However, it will get better and only lasts a few days or weeks in most cases. Only a small number of people continue to experience anosognosia months after their stroke.  

Signs of anosognosia

If you have anosognosia you may:

  • Not notice or show much concern about the effects of your stroke
  • Be aware of some problems but not others, so you may be aware that you have communication or vision problems, but not know that you can’t move one side of your body
  • Be aware of problems but not know what they mean, so you may try to walk, even if you know that you can’t move your leg
  • Think that your affected limbs don’t belong to you
  • Not accept that you have any problems at all, even when someone shows you that you do.   

What can I do about anosognosia?

Usually anosognosia problems will be picked up by your doctors or therapists whilst you’re in hospital or by your community team when you’re back at home.

If they haven’t been, and you start to notice that you may be having problems, then go back to your GP to get them properly diagnosed and assessed.

If these problems are making day-to-day life difficult for you, then you need to be referred to an occupational therapist. They will work with you to find ways to help you cope with them. They will also be able to suggest aids and equipment that can help you.

Find out more about getting help with memory and thinking problems after stroke

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