Stroke survivors may be left with hidden damage to their brains

October 21st, 2008 - 2:24 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, October 21 (ANI): While daily life problems like paralysis on one side of the body or difficulty with swallowing can be easily seen and addressed among stroke survivors, they may still be left with damage to their brains that makes it hard for them to interpret the environment around them.
Scientists at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey say that such hidden disabilities require targeted diagnostic and treatment strategies.
Difficulty eating, dressing, and navigating in complex environments occurs due to a hidden disability affecting functional vision. Although a stroke survivors eyes may be healthy, he or she may have trouble seeing with the brain, said Dr. Anna Barrett, an associate professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Neurology and Neurosciences, at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.
A person may become unable to perceive and act while eating, getting dressed, or moving around in the home or other very familiar surroundings. Worse, people with this visual-spatial disability usually dont know why they are making mistakes. They dont realize they have problems with functional vision, and so they cant tell others, the researcher added.
Barrett revealed that her research involves studies that target diagnostic and treatment strategies for this devastating, but under diagnosed condition.
Our mission in our research studies is to make these hidden disabilities visible so they can be treated, she said.
She said that over 50 per cent of stroke survivors also have memory difficulties that make it hard to manage appointments, medications, and to dual-task at home or in work environments.
According to her, such problems can limit stroke survivors independence, and confuse people who care about them.
Since memory problems resulting from stroke often go undetected, survivors may not know why they are having trouble resuming independence and returning to work.
Barrett says that such a hidden disability can be detected by observing certain warning signs.
Repeatedly bumping into one side of the body while walking through doorways; staring off in one direction, particularly toward the right side of the body, or generally making poor eye contact; involvement in a driving accident since the stroke or experiencing strange sensations when riding as a passenger; and having trouble finding things on one side of the body or in one place are some of the warning signs that can enable carers to detect the problem. (ANI)

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