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What is spatial neglect?

A stroke can make you lose awareness of things to one side of your body. Even if you have good eyesight, your brain doesn’t process the information it’s getting from one side. This is called neglect or inattention.

These kinds of problems can be obvious to the people around you, but you may not notice that anything is wrong. This is because your brain doesn’t know that something is missing. So you won’t know that you’ve missed half of the food on your plate until someone else brings your attention to it. It often affects the same side of the body with muscle weakness (your affected side). 

Signs of spatial neglect

If you have neglect, you may:

  • Miss things that are placed on your affected side.
  • Ignore people or bump into things without realising that they are there.
  • Not dress one side of your body or shave one side of your face.
  • Not eat food on one side of your plate.
  • Not read one side of a book or page.
  • Have problems finding your way around because you may not notice doors or landmarks on one side.  

What can I do about spatial neglect?

Usually if you have spatial neglect problems these 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 cognitive problems after stroke.

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