Postgraduate Fellow: Helen Morse
Stroke is a leading cause of disability in the UK. Every stroke is unique and the effects a stroke have depended on many things, including where in the brain the stroke happened. Sometimes, damage to the brain caused by a stroke means that it no longer receives information about one side of the body and/or world. If this happens, a stroke survivor might not be aware of anything on one side of their body – the opposite side to where their stroke happened. This is called spatial neglect and it affects around one in three stroke survivors.
People with spatial neglect tell us “it’s terrifying, I bump into people” and “there’s not enough support at home”. They tend to have poor recovery and long term disability after their stroke, and there is currently no effective treatment.
The researchers leading the current study recently investigated a treatment called Spatial Inattention Grasping Home-based Therapy (SIGHT). This treatment involves people picking up and balancing wooden rods at their centre, using their less affected hand. They found that stroke survivors who received this treatment had improved spatial neglect, and this improvement was still seen four months later. One of the benefits of this treatment is that it can be done by stroke survivors without the need for a therapist or carer present at all times.
Working closely with stroke survivors, carers, and clinicians the researchers have made SIGHT into a computer based exercise. Feedback from stroke survivors included that it was “better with the computer” than without, and would “increase the amount of time I spend on rehabilitation”.
This study will investigate:
- Whether the computerised SIGHT treatment can be delivered at home.
- How a large research study into SIGHT could be carried out.
- How accurate computer based tests for neglect are compared with pencil-and-paper tests.
The researchers think that SIGHT will be a low-cost and enjoyable treatment for stroke survivors with spatial neglect, and that it will reduce disability and improve quality of life in those who receive it.