Originally Published MDDI September 2002
Following strokes, some individuals suffer a vision disturbance called visuospatial neglect, which can arise when damage occurs to one hemisphere of the brain. In such situations, patients may have no knowledge of one side of their visual field and appear to ignore visual-spatial cues coming from that direction.
Now, however, a study conducted in Italy suggests that patients who wear specially designed hemiblinding goggles for several days may experience some improvement in their condition. The team of researchers, led by G. Zeloni, MD, of INRCA "I Fraticini" Hospital (Florence, Italy), studied 11 patients with visuospatial neglect caused by stroke damage to the right side of the brain. The condition had left them unable to take cues from the left side of their visual field, and all patients also had some degree of paralysis on the left side.
During the one-week study, one group of patients wore the hemiblinding goggles, which blocked out the right side of their field of vision, and another group did not. Use of the special goggles was intended to encourage more eye movement to the left, and reduce the unbalanced competition between visual information coming from patients' right and left sides.
The patients who wore the goggles improved on visual-spatial awareness tests administered immediately following the therapy, while those who did not showed no change. The researchers also found there was still evidence of improvement one week later, when the treated patients were retested after a week of not wearing the goggles. Untreated patients showed only weak signs of recovery over the study period. Although the findings are considered to be preliminary, the researchers consider the technique to be a promising tool for visuospatial neglect rehabilitation.
Copyright ©2002 Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry