Objective: To assess the efficacy, as well as the long term duration, of a new procedure for the rehabilitation of visuospatial neglect in patients with right hemisphere stroke.
Methods: Patients with right unilateral hemispheric damage identified with neglect were assigned to a treatment (T+) or a control (T–) group. The treatment consisted in abolishing all visual inputs from the right hemispace for one week by means of specially devised hemiblinding goggles. Patients' visuospatial abilities were tested and compared between groups immediately after the week of treatment. Both groups were further assessed one week after treatment suspension for evaluation of long term beneficial effects.
Results: Following the treatment, a substantial amelioration of visuospatial neglect symptoms was selectively observed in the T+ group. In contrast, untreated patients showed only weak signs of recovery. Most important, the amelioration obtained in the T+ group of patients was not ephemeral, being significantly maintained after a further period of one week, even after suspension of the treatment.
Conclusion: The protracted efficacy of the proposed “hemiblinding technique” may have important implications for the recovery of visuospatial neglect and may be a very promising tool for investigating both the cognitive and the neural basis of neglect rehabilitation.
- visuospatial neglect
- spatial representation
- spatial attention
- T+, treatment group
- T-, control group
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