The Influence of Visual Neglect on Stroke Rehabilitation

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Background and Purpose The poor outcome observed in stroke patients with visual neglect may be due to greater stroke severity or nonspecialist management.Methods The effects of visual neglect were studied prospectively in 150 consecutive stroke patients with comparable stroke pathology and motor severity managed on a stroke unit. A randomized study was subsequently undertaken in 50 stroke patients with visual neglect to evaluate the effectiveness of spatial cueing during motor activity on functional outcome and resource use in these patients.Results Visual neglect was present in 47 (32%) of a selected group of 146 patients (mean age, 77.0 +/- 8.2 years; 42% men) with moderate stroke severity. There were no differences in demography, prestroke function, or motor power in the arm (2.6 +/- 1.7 versus 2.3 +/- 2.1) or the leg (3.2 +/- 1.4 versus 3.0 +/- 1.6) on the affected side compared with 99 patients with no visual neglect. Although patients with visual neglect had lower median initial (4 versus 5, P<.01) and discharge (14 versus 16, P<.01) Barthel Index scores, equal proportions of patients were discharged home (60% versus 65%) or to institutions (34% versus 33%) in both groups. The durations of hospitalization (64 versus 36 days, P<.001) and therapy input (47.7 versus 27.8 hours, P<.01), however, were significantly greater in patients with visual neglect. The randomized controlled study showed a trend toward higher Barthel scores at 12 weeks (14 versus 12.5, P=NS) and significant reduction in median length of hospital stay (42 versus 66 days) in patients receiving spatiomotor cueing and early emphasis on functional rehabilitation.Conclusions Patients with visual neglect managed on a stroke unit have similar destination of discharge despite lower Barthel Index scores compared with patients of equal stroke severity who do not have this deficit. Spatiomotor cueing and early emphasis on function can improve outcome and reduce resource use in these patients. (Stroke. 1997;28:1386-1391.)

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